The Short Version: Free College?

The Short Version: Free College?

The point of it all is to break down the headlines, determine why an issue is important and reveal the best arguments on each side of the story. Last week, Cleo Abram looked at the option of mandatory voting. Given that jury duty is mandatory, why not voting? This week, the debate is about whether or not college should be free at public schools. (Bernie cast a long shadow.)

“As a recent college graduate, this debate is close to my heart. Hope you enjoy! I’m also particularly excited that a Short Version reader from Australia responded to last week’s debate on mandatory voting, reflecting on the practice in her country,” says Cleo.

Note: If you have missed any of Cleo’s blogs, just go to our Home Page, type “The Short Version” into Search (magnifying glass icon) and poof, like magic, all her blogs will appear.

“I love getting feedback every week—thank you! If you want come hang out, debate a thing or two, and meet other Shorties, check out Short Events,” says Cleo.

Cleo Constantine Abrams of the “Short Form,” offering densely packed spins on issues of national and global importance.

Cleo Constantine Abram of the “Short Form,” offering densely packed spins on issues of national and global importance.

What’s happening?

Despite losing the Democratic nomination, Bernie Sanders and his supporters are still influencing the election. Hillary Clinton has incorporated aspects of Sanders’ ideas for college affordability into her own, shifting from a plan that emphasized debt-free college to one that would eliminate college tuition for families with annual incomes under $125,000. However, the new plan stops short of providing free tuition to all students at public colleges, as Sanders proposed.

Why is it important?

College tuition—and by extension, student debt—is a major issue for young voters. According to the Federal Reserve, national student debt now stands at approximately $1.2 trillion and is growing at $3055 per second (watch it here, and read the first Short Version on student debt here.) Ten years ago, the national student loan balance was only $447 billion.

Approximately 70% of college graduates leave school with student loan debt, compared to less than 50% twenty years ago. Today, student debt is the second-largest source of consumer debt in the US, topping credit card and car loan debt, beat only by mortgages. Given rising costs of a college education and continued underemployment of college graduates, student loan debt is set to become a major issue of the 2016 presidential campaign— and it has the potential to become a crippling economic crisis.

Debate it!

Should college be free at public schools?


 Why “The Short Version” on TIO:

Eight+ years ago, Telluride Inside…and Out began as a lifestyle webzine. Today, in the full knowledge that Telluride is a window on the world, we continue to bring the “zazz” (short for “pizzazz) of the region to a local, national, and global audience by covering everything from Telluride’s robust cultural economy – major events and festivals – to health and fitness and outdoor adventure. When Telluride travels, we write about places to go, people to meet too. (That’s part of the “Out” part of our handle, the other, obviously, Outdoors.)

And now, this new weekly column, “The Short Version,” which offers simple summaries of issues of national and global importance. (Though we won’t go political, or rather we won’t show bias in the upcoming election.)

“The Short Version” is written by Cleo Constantine Abram, the daughter of Telluride locals Eleni Constantine and Jonathan Abram (and therefore an honorary local and regular visitor) and a digital strategist.

Why “The Short Version”? Because, though we live in Shangri-La, our bubble is not impermeable and the rest of the world is only a click away. Because there is no inconsequential action; only consequential inaction. And because information is power in a moment so many of us are feeling powerless.

More about Cleo Constantine Abram:


Cleo Abram 2


Cleo grew up in Washington D.C., lives in New York City, and loves to visit her parents in Telluride. She authors “The Short Version,” a newsletter that explains each week’s most important issue and both sides of the debate around it.

Cleo is a digital strategist at Precision Strategies, a political consulting firm born of the Obama 2012 presidential campaign.

Cleo’s work focuses on ways to share, educate, and inform using online platforms. While in college at Columbia University, she guided the school’s entrance into online education through her role as the youngest elected representative to the Columbia Senate, which makes university-wide policy.

She continued her work on online education at TED-Ed, the educational branch of the nonprofit, building new programs and online tools to support high school teachers worldwide.

Continuing her work with TED, Cleo founded and led an early TEDx conference, the organization’s community-specific series.

Most importantly, Cleo loves to ski.

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