As part of his 100 day plan to change America, John Kerry will propose a comprehensive service plan that includes requiring mandatory service for high school students and four years of college tuition in exchange for two years of national service.
MANDATORY SERVICE FOR HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS
- Service Should Be a Graduation Requirement: John Kerry believes that knowledge of the rights and responsibilities of citizenship - including the duty to serve your community - are as important to American adults as knowing how to read and do math. Combined with a curriculum that teaches students about democracy, citizenship and civic participation, this high school service requirement will be a rite of passage for every young person in the country. As President, John Kerry will ensure that every high school student in America does community service as a requirement for graduation.
- States and Communities Will Have Flexibility to Design Programs That Meet Their Needs: States and local communities will design their own service requirements to make the requirement significant and meaningful without becoming onerous. For instance, the State of Maryland requires seventy-five hours of service over the course of high school and local educators have discretion to implement the requirement in ways that meet student needs. John Kerry understands that young people have many obligations and recognizes that a service requirement should not be onerous or unrealistic for students to meet. Maryland, as well as numerous school districts around the country, including some in New Hampshire, already have such a requirement and have had great results.
- Ending Unfunded Mandates in Education: John Kerry does not, however, believe in unfunded mandates. No state would be obligated to implement a service requirement if the federal government does not live up to its obligation to fund the program.
SERVICE FOR COLLEGE
- Four Years of College Tuition for Two Years of Service: As President, John Kerry will call on young people to help strengthen America’s security and address unmet community needs. In return, Kerry believes that we should offer young Americans and their family’s peace of mind that they will be able to afford a college education. Under Kerry’s proposal America will pick up the tab for college tuition for every young person who serves the nation. Young people who serve for two years will receive the equivalent of four years of college tuition, or two years of college tuition in exchange for one year of service. The amount of the award will be based on the average tuition cost of attending a four-year public college.
- Giving Young People Tools to Succeed in the 21st Century: Kerry’s plan will also allow national service members to take classes to make sure they have the skills they need to succeed in college. If service members decide not to go to college, their award can be used for job training, to help start a business, or to make a down payment on the purchase of a home. Anyone who elects to serve after they have already completed college can use their award for loan repayment.