The demand already has skyrocketed. In the workplace. That's why you need an educated workforce in a modern society. Also, if you want that workforce to be able to spend money, maybe even save a little so you can enjoy a relatively stable financial system, it helps if it isn't servicing vast, crushing debt loads.
Is that really a common "moderate conservative" critique of Pay It Forward? Because that's horribly weak, I've gotta tell you.
Again, I don't want to sidetrack this, but I can clarify my views on this.
You say that the demand for higher education has already skyrocketed, and that a modern workforce requires higher education. I would agree with you on this statement - and while many would say this is the result of a globalized economy, I would say it has more to do with a saturation of degree holders. In other words, too many people who previously would never have needed to go college, are now going to college. I work in higher education, and I can tell you honestly that college education standards have fallen considerably in recent years. You would be amazed how many college freshman are unable to string a simple sentence together.
The next question is, why has the demand for higher education skyrocketed? In the past, if you wanted to attend college, you would go to a bank to obtain a student loan, since the student loan industry was privatized. In essence, the bank was taking a gamble by offering the loan. If they gave a loan to a student who would not be able to pay it back, they would lose money. As a result, they would ask to see a copy of your grades, use formulas to predict your probability of graduation, and expected income for your major, and either approve or deny the loan request. This is a similar process as is now required to obtain a business loan or personal loan.
However, ever since the government has started offering federal student loans that are guaranteed to all students, these requirements are now dropped. In other words, a student with a 2.1 GPA graduating high school, who clearly is very unlikely to do well in college, will be granted a federal student loan. Because many up-and-coming colleges and universities are strapped to obtain cash, many of these institutions will unfortunately accept these at-risk students, and put the onus on the professors to "somehow" get them to graduate in 4 years. Professors, in their desire to maintain their reputation, will be forced to bend the rigidness of their academic standards to get the majority of their students to pass - creating a situation where college standards decline.
So no, my perspective on this issue is not horribly weak - it simply represents a different perspective than yours. Programs like Pay It Forward will simply exacerbate this situation by flooding the 4-year college market. Many of these at-risk students don't have the skills required to find employment in college-level careers post-graduation, and many of these students dropout before graduation itself. These students, had they considered other avenues like in the past - learning a trade, starting a business, doing an apprenticeship, etc, may have thriving careers.
Unsurprisingly, many of the trade professions (AC repair, electrician, plumbers) are the last bastions of job security in the United States. I think Callie Del Noire's situation is all too common unfortunately, where people in careers that never needed college degrees in the past, now suddenly require them due to over-saturation.