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Should College Be Free For Everyone

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Better Average Education Levels

Should College Be Free?

Through free college education, also the average education levels of the general public would likely improve significantly.

Such an improvement in education would benefit people in many different ways.

For instance, if people have a better financial education, they are more likely to make better investment decisions, which in turn results in higher levels of wealth in the long run.

Students May Not Value Education Anymore

It is in human nature to be skeptic about free stuff.

For instance, you might have noticed that you value things that cost significant amounts of money more compared to things that are given to you for free.

The same can be true for education. If students take it for granted that they will get all the education for free, chances are that they might not value this kind of education the way they are supposed to value it.

Main Arguments Against Free College

In 2020, the total number of student borrowers in the U.S. was 44.7 million, with a loan debt of $1.56 trillion. Horn argues that free college policies are misguided because they dont address the root cause of why post-secondary education costs so much. The goal is to increase enrollment, access, and equality, but free college education policies have failed to deliver. This section will present the main arguments against free college.

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Pros Cons And Alternatives Of Free College

There is little reason to believe that free college would increase the number of students who would graduate, and reason to fear it would reduce the quality of, and access to, a college education. This could hit low-income students the hardest . This quote provides evidence that if college tuition is to become free

Free College Would Not Ensure High Completion Rates

Make college free for all

There is no guarantee that free college will benefit all students because some might not even want to go to college. Lochner and Monge-Naranjo found that the return to college for marginal students is low. The least-prepared students would struggle to succeed. There are long-run factors, such as family environment, that have a significant effect on determining college attainment .

Free college recipients are not as motivated to study as those who pay for it. In Denmark, these type of students are referred to as eternity students, or those who stay in college for six years or more without any plans of finishing a program. Having free education affords these students to continually transfer from one study program to another. In contrast, paying college students showed greater perseverance in studying and finishing a program.

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List Of The Cons Of Free College

1. It requires someone to pay for it. College tuition isnt going to be free. Someone will be asked to pay for the expenses. It requires a shift from the individual to the society as to who will be responsible. Proposed payment options have included closing corporate tax loopholes, increasing tax rates on the wealthiest 0.1% in the U.S., implementing taxes on speculative investments, or decreasing the military budget, which is routinely over $600 billion in the U.S. each year.

2. It might encourage financial irresponsibility. One of the most important lessons learned in college is how to manage your personal finances. It is a lesson that some students are forced to learn the hard way. Having a student loan may be the first major financial transaction that someone has. Being able to pay it off without missing payments makes it easier to establish a good credit score and make future purchases. If college was free, the financial lessons would disappear and there would be fewer opportunities to establish a strong credit profile.

5. It might reduce state programs in other essential areas. In the United States, the costs of a public education are often fronted at the state level. By making college free, each state would be forced to come to grips as to how they would afford this option. With budgets already strained in many areas, the likely result of free college would be a reduction, or termination, of other core safety net programs which support low-income families.

Con : Tuition Isnt The Only Barrier To College Education

One significant argument in this list of cons is that free tuition does not address the most significant barriers to college education.

  • True: The non-tuition costs of food, clothing, housing, transportation, and personal expenses increase the cost of college from 50% to 80%. Surveys show that about 58,000 college students are food insecure and homeless.
  • True: The financial aid application process is complex for many students. Federal financial aid, grant awards, and loan eligibility standards cannot be easily retrieved anytime from a website by every potential college student.

Takeaway: To ensure the viability of a national tuition-free college program, many other barriers to a college diploma should be directly addressed.

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Students May Not Focus On One Major

Even though free college education gives students the opportunity to try many different subjects, it also implies the risk that college students do not focus their efforts on one major.

This may result in problems since if those students take part in too many different majors and classes, chances are that the grades will significantly suffer in each course and many students may leave college without a degree due to that.

Free College Would Not Lead To A Well

Affordable Access to Higher Education at SNHU

Factors such as the quality of faculty as well as the readiness of students are crucial if post-secondary education is to deliver its perceived benefits. The infusion of money may benefit students by lessening the financial burden of going to college, but it does not ensure quality at all levels. Making college accessible could lead to compromising the quality of education, which would defeat the purpose of policies that seek to provide free college for the benefit of society. London is the most educated city in the world and sits atop the list of having the most talented workforce, but in this city, college education is not free.

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Con : State Schools Will Spend Less Per Student

There are growing concerns that a combination of federal and local tax dollars will decrease per-student support, which is not the goal.

  • True: State subsidies can motivate state institutions to spend less on each student.
  • True: Many for-profit colleges are under large, publicly-traded companies that game the Federal financial aid system by socializing losses and privatizing profits.
  • False: Institutional checks and balances can curb any discovered abuses and ensure fiscal responsibility.

Takeaway: Public accountability will ensure that tax dollars provided to free colleges will be maximized. At the same time, issues of education output quality, cost transparency, and corruption must be addressed.

Pro : Free College Would Expand Access To Education

Okay, this one is a little obvious, but offering free college tuition would make it possible for more people to pursue higher education. The bright young people who currently skip college because they cant afford it would have the opportunity to get a degree and get better jobs. The high cost of a degree would no longer be an obstacle. For many proponents of free college, its a question of fairness. They say that access to a bachelors degree should be accessible to everyone, especially because a B.A. or B.S. is increasingly necessary to get a good job.

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The Advantages Of Online University

With technological advances, online universities are proliferating. Online universities require less overhead costs. Therefore, they are almost always cheaper than traditional schools. However, there are even some that are totally tuition-free.

Founded in 2009, Shai Reshef started the University of the People with the mission to offer an affordable and quality education to anyone around the world. Students from over 200 countries and territories have been in attendance of the online programs.

We have degree programs in Computer Science, Health Science, Education, and Business Administration.

Thanks to a wide network of volunteers and professors from renowned institutions around the world, the education offered parallels that of a traditional American university and is accredited as such.

Pro : It Is An Excellent Investment

Should Everyone Go to College?

Another argument is that investing in education isnt just the right thing to do its smart economics.

  • True: Eliminating tuition fees at all public colleges and universities would cost at least $79 billion a year. However, in terms of lost revenues and increased social services, out of school or unemployed young Americans cost taxpayers about $93 billion a year .
  • True: Low graduation rates can cause the states to lose at least more than $100 million in income taxes and at least $15 million in federal income taxes.
  • True: On the individual level, the cost of illiteracy in terms of social and economic effects costs more than $300.8 billion in lost business productivity and earnings as well as expenses for social welfare, crime, and health.
  • True: An uneducated society will cost hundreds of billions of dollars for health services, welfare, and unemployment benefits, lost tax revenues, lost productivity, and poor economic competitiveness as well as poor civic engagement.

Takeaway: It costs less to offer free tuition for all than to let Americans go through life without a college degree.

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More Kids From Poor Families Could Attend College

Free college education is especially important for kids who come from rather poor families and who would never be able to afford college education if there were high tuition fees.

Hence, for children from poor families, free college education would be a real blessing since they would now be able to get good college education without having to pay large sums of money for it.

In turn, it would become more likely that children from poor families would be able to get out of poverty since education and financial wealth are strongly correlated.

Should Community College Be Free

Its a big question with varying viewpoints. Supporters of free community college cite the economic contributions of a more educated workforce and the individual benefit of financial security, while critics caution against the potential expense and the inefficiency of last-dollar free college programs.

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College Creates Better Futures

College is the de facto means of social mobility in the U.S., propelling graduates into solid, middle-class jobs. Higher degrees can unlock an extra million dollars in lifetime earnings. But in order for college to live up to its potential as a great equalizer, all individuals must be able to access higher education.

Bachelor’s degrees have replaced high school diplomas as the basic qualification for most jobs. Yet while K-12 education remains free in the U.S., postsecondary education comes at a steep price. Most students take out loans, and around 10% wind up defaulting.

Existing financial aid, scholarships, and student debt forgiveness programs, such as those that forgive the remaining debt of teachers and other civil servants after a certain number of years, have failed to help millions of students afford their degrees. Student borrowers who drop out of college are in the worst position of all, bogged down by debt but without a degree to accelerate their ability to pay it off.

Advantages Of Free College Education

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  • Better access to education
  • More kids from poor families could attend college
  • Better average education levels
  • Free college education may lower the wage gap
  • Lower unemployment rates
  • Can be regarded to increase fairness levels
  • Social benefits from better education
  • Pressure on students may decrease
  • Students would be better able to focus on their studies
  • Less need for part-time jobs
  • Students would be better able to try out different things
  • Lower student debt levels
  • Diversity in colleges would increase
  • Preparation for the future
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    Free College Would Decrease Inequality

    Social inequality is one of the major arguments as to why college should be free. Students who choose to pursue college eventually graduate with an average of $32,731 in debt . Students from low-income families are usually held back by the possibility of incurring huge amounts of debt, and opt not to pursue college. Between 1979 and 2012, the inflation-adjusted earnings gap between two-earner households, one with high school diploma and one with college diploma increased by about $28,000 . This cycle of inequality is expected to continue unless free college becomes a policy.

    Free college would also lessen undermatching, which occurs when students select colleges and universities based on financial needs . While these students could opt to pursue post-secondary education in more selective institutions as their academic achievement and credentials predict, their choice of less selective colleges eventually affects earnings and work opportunities, which negatively impacts their contribution to communities. Offering free college will promote equal opportunity to all students.

    Most Free College Programs Dont Address The Real Costs Of College

    With the rhetoric surrounding rising tuition costs, an easy fix sounds like eliminating tuition altogether. Surely that would solve the problem, right? Wrong. Thats because tuition isnt the only driver of college affordability. For this school year alone, tuition and fees make up only 48% of the total costs a student pays to attend a four-year public institution.6 One recent study in California showed that while the state has done a good job at keeping tuition affordable through financial aid, low-income students were still struggling with paying the costs of living like housing, food, textbooks, and transportation.7 Thats why it is estimated that simply eliminating tuition expenses would still leave low-income students with $17.8 billion in unmet need for living expensesthe real cost of college for the majority of students.8

    Before the introduction of the Tennessee Promise free community college program, on average a low-income student had more than $7,000 in unmet need due to non-tuition costs because often low-income students at community colleges have mostif not allof their tuition covered by their Pell Grant.9 Rather than using state tax dollars to provide cost of living subsidies to meet those needs, the program instead provided a $1,500 benefit in state tax dollars to higher-income students. New Yorks Excelsior programtheir version of free two- and four-year collegealso failed to address the living costs associated with going to college .10

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    Less Motivation To Study Hard

    If students do not value their free education, also the chances that they become less motivated increases dramatically.

    Imagine you are a college student and you know that your parents spend large sums of money for your tuition.

    Chances are that you will be quite eager to study hard to pay them back sooner or later.

    However, if there are no tuition fees, chances are that you are more relaxed and do not have too much motivation to study hard since you know the financial burden on you and your family is rather limited.

    Con : It Offers No Way To Control What People Study

    Should college be free for all?

    Some opponents of free college argue that the government shouldnt be subsidizing peoples degrees in majors that arent likely to lead to a good job. They might be okay with subsidizing STEM degrees but not, say, theater degrees. These critics would prefer a more targeted program that would give students fewer choices.

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    Free College Is Not Directly Linked To Economic Growth

    While education is a key driver of economic development, free college alone would not ensure growth. Education raises creativity and productivity, requiring substantial investments in institutions. Since the provision of free college could affect the quality of education, free access for all to postsecondary education might not be able to provide the competencies and skills needed to produce a strong workforce. The government has many competing priorities and free college requires high education subsidies. Unless spending is well-targeted, there is a high possibility of failure in the long-run .

    Indeed, a study by Perna et al on college promise programs as published by the American Educational Research Association revealed that efficient use of resources is at the root of the debate on free college. Their work, Is a College Promise Program an Effective Use of Resources? published in the American Educational Research Association, states that promise programs may advance vertical equity by investing resources in a financial award that reduces costs of attendance for low-income students and creating eligibility requirements that permit students from underserved groups to receive program resources. Programs may advance equity and efficiency by investing in personnel and other supports that enable students from underserved groups to meet eligibility requirements, enroll, persist, transfer, and complete.

    Con : The Government Cannot Afford It

    Another argument against offering free college nationwide is that it will require a huge amount of money that the government doesnt have.

    • True: Eliminating tuition at all public colleges and universities would cost at least $79 billion a year, according to a Department of Education report, and taxpayers would need to foot the bill.
    • True: America must meet repayment schedules for its foreign debt, such as $1.18 trillion to China, $1.03 trillion to Japan, Brazil, Ireland, the U.K., and others.
    • False: Only 5.4% of Americas GDP goes to education. The US public education budget is more than $700 billion or about $11,825.89 per student.
    • False: Theres money set aside for higher education every year. For 2020, the US government already allocated approximately $8.12 trillion for higher education.

    Takeaway: The government has the money to fund tuition-free college for all.

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    Pro : It Improves Workforce Competencies

    Another argument for free college is that it is now a requirement for most jobs, so much so that people use up their savings and even assume massive debts to get a college degree.

    • True: The value of college degrees has changed along with changes in technology, the economy, and lifestyles. Now, its easier to get a steady, decent-paying job with a college degree.
    • True: A high-quality free college education can teach values, ethics, critical thinking, abstract problem-solving, and learn how to learn, an increasingly important skill in times of rapid change. Technological change will make these skills more valuable than ever.
    • True: Year on year, bachelors degree holders can earn at least $32,000 more than those with a high school diploma.
    • False: Employers say that students are not learning soft skills and workplace competencies in college. It takes more than a major to be prepared for the job market. In fact, skills training cannot replace higher education.

    Takeaway: Although tuition-free college can improve workplace competencies, a college degree does not always guarantee a job or significant wealth.

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