Wednesday, July 10, 2024

Why College Should Not Be Free

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What The Opponents Say

Should College Be Free?

Opponents of a free education system have four overarching concerns:

  • Free isnt free: Somebody has to pay for the proposed public benefits, which an increased number of students would claim, driving already high costs up even further. The question of who and how prevents many policymakers from moving forward, even though other details in the existing proposals may be attractive.
  • Independent colleges may suffer: Opponents are worried about the potential impact free public education could have on independent colleges, many of which are already experiencing financial difficulties, as students may leave those institutions to enroll in free public schools. This could diminish educational choice and quality.
  • Untested programs could be unduly funded: Experiential learning is becoming a preferred alternative to a traditional degree and gaining momentum though its benefits arent yet proven. Opponents dont like the idea of including new programs as part of a free higher education system, because doing so blurs lines and makes accountability more difficult.
  • Online colleges may suffer: Success of some of the online programs is, to a great degree, attributed to their affordability and convenient schedule. These programs will be in fierce competition with colleges that participate in free public education programs and may suffer a decline in the number and academic standing of the students who will be enrolling.

Pro : Its An Important Basic Need

If we view higher education as a fundamental right, some college options would have to be free of charge and funded by the taxpayers.

  • True: Higher education has become more important due to rapid industrialization and technological innovations. More jobs in the near future will require college-educated workers.
  • True: Free-tuition colleges nationwide can help students who most need financial help, as well as states that need to have a skilled workforce.
  • False: Other basic needs must be met before students can learn effectively, such as nutrition, exercise, transportation, and neighborhood environments.
  • False: A steady source of income is more important than free college tuition.
  • False: Free community college is already an option for low-income students.

Takeaway: Free college tuition is not the most important of all basic human needs. Furthermore, free college programs are already available to students unable to attend college at paid insititutions.

Con : There Are Many Free College Options

Another argument against offering free college is that many other free college options already exist. So, why spend billions of tax dollars to create a free college system for all?

Takeaway: Aside from offering free college to all, there is a need to improve existing alternative learning opportunities to meet more real needs of many students.

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Does Free College Work In Other Countries

So, does free college work in other countries? To answer that, wed have to look at three determining factors: the countrys college attainment rates, its education quality, and its funding resources.

Take, for instance, how some countries with free college education maintain their prestige and education quality. They adopt a certain degree of selectivity, allowing them to accept only the most talented and worthy students in their universities. While this helps them keep their elite status, it reflects poorly on their college attainment rates as they end up with fewer college graduates compared to expensive universities with more open enrollment policies.

Another important factor to consider is the countrys funding resources. Most countries with free college education impose higher taxes on their citizens to collect enough funds for their educational expenditures. This means taxpayers will have to shoulder the cost of a countrys entire education system, and for as long as the student population grows, property taxes will keep increasing as well.

More People Would Go To College

Rare Why College Should Not Be Free Essay ~ Thatsnotus

As enrollment at public schools increases, so do the fees. Either more money would have to be given to the schools, or they would have to create waitlists. This means that the taxes for education-related purposes might go up, or funding for something else might be diverted to pay the influx of fees. In addition to this, the large number of graduates might oversaturate some areas of the workforce. That leaves even more people with degrees working jobs that they are overqualified for.

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Five Reasons Why Free College Doesn’t Make The Grade

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders speaks during Brooklyn College’s commencement ceremony, Tuesday, May 30,… 2017, in New York. The Democratic presidential candidate has continued to push for free tuition to public colleges.


As the presidential campaign has heated up, many Democratic presidential candidates are scrambling to see who can offer the most sweeping free college proposal.

Many are making the argument that extending access to public colleges is analogous to when the United States created universal high schools. One hundred fifteen years ago, only one-third of children in the United States who enrolled in the first grade made it to high school. The realization that competition with a fast-rising industrial Germany meant America would have to prepare everyone for vocations led the country to create the worlds first public universal schooling system. In just a generation, 75% of students entered high school.

Given that 65% of all jobs in the economy will soon require postsecondary education and training beyond high school, according to Georgetown Universitys Center on Education and the Workforce, why not emulate our past and make public colleges free and universal, goes the argument.

Ive written on this topic a number of times, in particular here and here, but heres a brief summation of five reasons why this logic and the ensuing free college proposals dont make sense.

1) Crowd out faster, cheaper options

2) Support a subpar system

* * *

Free College Is Not A New Or Radical Concept

  • John Adams, writing in 1785: The whole people must take upon themselves the education of the whole people and must be willing to bear the expense of it.
  • Rutherford B. Hayes, Inaugural Address,1877: But at the basis of all prosperity, for that as well as for every other part of the country, lies the improvement of the intellectual and moral condition of the people. Universal suffrage should rest upon universal education. To this end, liberal and permanent provision should be made for the support of free schools by the State governments, and, if need be, supplemented by legitimate aid from national authority.
  • Morill Act of 1862: The Morrill Act of 1862 enabled land-grant colleges to be created by states on federal lands so that higher education could become available to Americans in every social class. Initially, students could often attend tuition-free. Eventually, public colleges started charging tuition.
  • The GI Bill: Following World War II, over two million veterans were able to get free college educations thanks to the GI Bill. Many of these people would never have been able to attend college otherwise. It changed their lives and our country because it helped the economy and increased the countrys talent pool. The GI Bill is often cited by scholars as a major reason for the high productivity and economic growth in the United States after the war.

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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

Argumentative Essay: Free Community College

Should College Be Free?

It was quickly turned down due to financial issues. There was no way to pay for his plan then so why bring it back? Since 2012, every year America has added 2.39 billion dollars to the dept. The question over if this is feasible or not is fairly obvious. Do not get me wrong, the idea of having a free college to help those in need is illuminating.

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Con : The Higher Education System Cannot Be Changed

Still another argument against free college is that the higher education system is a bastion of stability in a constantly changing world. This consistent resistance to new ideas means the system wont change and offer free tuition for all.

  • True. In colleges and universities, implementing change can be slow, difficult, or even impossible. Much value is given to tradition as well as established systems and processes.
  • True. Due to conflicts of interest, real change is not expected from the higher education system, not by the dozens of higher college education groups in Washington, D. C., nor by college or university presidents or boards of trustees.
  • True. And change certainly cannot be expected from student loan providers. They have too much to lose.
  • False: The US higher education system can be reformed by teachers who care, students who pay, and employers who need them.

Takeaway: The US tertiary education system can be changed, not by those who have much to lose, but by those who have more to gain.

Argumentative Essay: Should Students Go To College

Ultimately, colleges put higher education on a pedestal, which in turn makes job requirements steeper. This raises the price of supposed basic education, while not increasing pay for jobs. With a focus on specialized education for low-paying jobs, and consequently less income with more debt, colleges cause long-term financial problems, showing a complete disregard for the actual well-being of the student and their future, which is why students should examine other possibilities to secure their

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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.

Main Arguments Advocating Free College

Reasons Why College Should Not Be Free

Increasing educational attainment is the main goal of free college. Economic evidence suggests that education fuels economic growth and global competitiveness . Falling enrollment and inequality in higher education access are just two of the concerns frequently cited by the free college movement. The supporters of free college believe higher education benefits not only the individual but the society. In this section, the gains of providing free post-secondary education will be identified.

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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.

Negative Effects From The Public

Though the initial idea of free college is no doubt an appealing one, the truth of the matter is education still needs to be paid for. Essentially that would mean tax payers footing the bill. Increasing personal taxation to pay the huge countrywide tuition bill could cause unrest.

Tax paying citizens who have no direct links to the college experience in work or in their personal lives might feel aggrieved.In order to appease these people, the government might be persuaded to eliminate courses that these tax payers dont deem to be worth their money.

As a result of this public displeasure, students might begin to see more liberal, unusual degrees and courses disappear from curriculum in favor of more practical, traditional subjects that tax payers deem to be acceptable. Once you start relying on somebody else to pay your way through your education, then you open yourself up to the prospect of that education being dictated to you or limits being placed on it.

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The State Of Education In Countries That Offer Free College

While students from the wealthiest families can easily study in the most expensive universities in the U.S., for lower-income students, a tuition-free college serves as the only ticket to pursue a bachelors degree. However, not every country offers free college educationand those that do tend to have drawbacks in their programs, such as high living costs or limited majors to choose from. To get more acquainted with how tuition-free college education works in other countries, lets take a look at countries with free college statistics below.

What About The Evidence Beyond Milwaukee

Why ‘Free College’ Is a Terrible Idea

Our study also reviews other research on financial aid, including federal aid, state merit aid programs, and the newer promise scholarship programs that mimic free college. Our study is not alone in finding that financial aid improves student outcomes. In fact, the vast majority of the most rigorous studies find positive effects on college attendance and college graduation. Given the strong average benefits of college, we can expect follow-up studies to show effects on employment earnings, voting, and other outcomes.

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Con : Education Will Be Devalued

Yet another argument is that offering free education to young people will be a waste of money because theyre less likely to take it seriously.

  • True: Free tuition addresses the price of college attendance but does not improve teaching quality. In fact, free tuition without a budget to add resources to colleges with increased enrollment can lower education quality.
  • True: Students who dont pay for college are not worried about the effects of skipping classes, not completing a course, or of dropping out of college.
  • True: Free college can decrease persistence and success. In challenging or rigorous classes, many avoid failure by withdrawing, which requires payment to repeat a course. If tuition is free, theres no incentive to finish what they start.
  • False: Degrees with guaranteed job placement have a high value.

Takeaway: Price is not the only value element of free college education, so its devaluation is unlikely. However, issues of education quality, persistence to completion, and job closures must be addressed.

Are There Better Alternatives

Maybe some kind of middle ground exists. Maybe making public colleges free for everyone isn’t the best way to solve the affordability problem. At least, that’s what some people believe. They point out that other options have been shown to work well and that those options might be a lot less expensive for American taxpayers.

For example, consider the possibility of an income-based repayment system. For some former college students in the U.S., that is already a reality. They are able to have the repayment of their student loans tied to a small percentage of their incomes. And if they earn below a certain threshold, then they don’t have to make any payments. After 20 to 25 years, whatever is left on their loans is written off, as long as they have consistently kept up with all of the payments that were due. The problem, currently, is that this option is only available to low-income people who can prove that they are experiencing financial hardship.

But what if loans with income-based repayment were available to every student? You would be able to attend college, university, or trade school without having to pay for tuition while enrolled. Then, after you left school, you would only have to pay an affordable percentage of what you earned . The more money you earned, the quicker you would pay off the loan. And if your income stayed low, you would have the peace of mind of knowing that your loan obligations would eventually expire.

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