The Corner

Hey, New Yorkers, the Government Wants to Lend You Thousands for Your Child’s Preschool Education

Good news! If you’re a New York City middle-class parent who can’t afford tuition for your kids, you can now borrow up to $11,000 from the government at a 6 percent interest rate.

Worried that this kind of government subsidy is going to encourage college-tuition rates to spike even higher? Have no fear: This is actually a subsidy program for preschool.

(Seriously. If you don’t believe me, read the news accounts here and here.)

And oh, in case you’re a middle-class New Yorker who is actually interested in borrowing thousands for preschool, prepare for disappointment: Despite the fact that the median household income in New York City is $57,000, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, you need to make somewhere between $80,000 and $200,000 to qualify.

So, if the correlation between college-tuition rates and levels of government assistance is an indication, watch for preschool rates to rise in NYC, if this program eventually expands. (In the first year, only 40 families will be given the loans.)

Sure, if all goes well, parents assume they will continue to earn more as they (and their children) age. But if you need to borrow thousands for preschool, how are you going to handle paying that back and spending thousands on private-school education? (Somehow I don’t see the same parents who are willing to shell out thousands for preschool suddenly become public-school fans a couple of years later.) Will you be able to send your child to college, or will you be too busy still paying back all those loans you took out for them earlier? Once your child “graduates” from preschool, there are still 17 years remaining in his education, assuming he attends college (and finishes in four years, which is no guarantee these days).  

Early-childhood education is important. But a pricey preschool education isn’t the only answer. Middle-class parents can help their children develop crucial skills by reading to and playing with them. (I didn’t attend preschool, but nonetheless excelled academically in grade school – although, I’m going to be honest, some of the other kids in kindergarten were definitely better at me at gluing, and it’s totally possible if I had attended preschool I wouldn’t have been so behind in that vital life skill.) The other solution – encouraging parents to go into debt over a decade before their child even takes the SATs — is insane.

Katrina TrinkoKatrina Trinko is a political reporter for National Review. Trinko is also a member of USA TODAY’S Board of Contributors, and her work has been published in various media outlets ...

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