Digital Dollars for Diplomas

Prediction: Digital currencies will do more to free information—to free people from the constraints of paying for information—than all the proposals for “free” college. When college tuition is too expensive for too many, while too few can free themselves from a lifetime of debt, then it is time for colleges to accept other forms of payment.

Now is the time—it is well past time—for colleges to accept digital currencies that have more currency than all the dollars a government can print; that have a finite number of dollars in circulation; that have perceived value and a precise valuation, based not on politics but mathematics; that have worth, not because of the illogic of a law, but because of the irrefutable laws of science. Whether students lead these events, or colleges recognize that they cannot escape these events, is beside the point—because digital currencies will be the way more people pay for college.

Digital currencies will be at least another way for students to pay for college and graduate school.

According to Wayne R. Cohen, a professor at The George Washington University School of Law and a Washington, DC injury claims attorney,

The rise of digital currencies is a chance for law schools to not only address this issue but to consider accepting tuition payments in the form of digital currencies. Were that to happen, colleges and universities may become more accessible—and attractive—to qualified students who otherwise cannot afford to attend many of the nation’s top schools.

Because I have a law degree, and because I know so many lawyers with too much debt and too little work, I believe law schools will have to accept tuition payments via digital currencies—and banks will have to renegotiate outstanding loans among recent (and not-so-recent) graduates of law school.

What I do not believe is this: that the office that processes tuition payments is better with money than the people who manage money for a living; that the bursar’s office can balance its own budget, never mind an endowment ten to a hundred times its budget for the last five years; that fiat money will allow colleges and universities to buy their way out of a social, political, and economic mess.

Let the financial experts play a bigger role in how students finance their way through college. Let the experts arbitrage digital currencies for paper money, as differences in price may translate into paper gains for a school’s operating income and endowment. Let the experts use digital currencies to their advantage, as the cost of college continues to exceed the rate of inflation. So long as that imbalance continues—so long as tuition grows at a preposterous but predictable rate—digital currencies will be a solution for students and an investment strategy for currency traders.

Regardless of whatever else happens, digital currencies will underwrite more than one student’s college tuition. When that happens, all other debates about digital currencies will be academic. Then students can debate academics without questioning how to pay to enter academia.

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