Pro : Students Would Be Free To Follow Their Passions And Abilities
Because the current college education system leaves many students with high amounts of debt, students choices are constrained. They may choose a major they dont really love simply because it promises a higher future salary. They might go to a college thats not the best one they could get in to because its cheaper. They might take fewer risks later in life because of their debt. High levels of debt discourage people from starting businesses, moving to another city in search of better job opportunities or changing jobs. If you eliminate student loan debt you eliminate these problems, with benefits for students and for the overall economy.
Is Free Community College A Good Idea
Are there drawbacks to making community college free?
Perhaps you read a column in The Washington Post that was highly critical of the free community college proposals that many states are adopting and the federal government is considering. At the risk of gross oversimplification, this op-ed depicts two-year institutions as dropout factories that result, all too often, in significant loss of credits when students transfer.
Thats only one of many recent columns criticizing the free community college idea. Theres an opinion piece in Forbes entitled Community College Students Need Better Options, Not Free Tuition that claims that 46 percent of community college students drop out within five years without earning an associates degree or certificate.
Then theres a more sophisticated piece in Hechinger Report titled Economists find free community colleges can backfire, which argues that increasing instructional spending at colleges will have a much bigger impact than eliminating tuition, and that eliminating tuition at four-year institutions for Pell Grant-eligible students will have a bigger impact on bachelor’s degree production than free community college.
Then, too, theres a piece on that argues that other policies offer a bigger bang for the buck than free community college.
Hopefully, you also read Matt Reeds incisive, cutting and witty rebuttal to the Post column in Inside Higher Ed.
Here is a series of questions that the controversy provokes.
Who Would Benefit Most From Free College
Free college is unlikely to see the light of day in todays divided political environment, but is frequently in the news as a point of contention between the two leading contenders for the Democratic nomination for president. Bernie Sanders supports eliminating tuition and fees at public colleges, whereas Hillary Clinton favors increases in student aid targeted at low- and middle-income students.
This report provides new evidence on which groups of students are likely to benefit the most from a policy that eliminates tuition and fees at public colleges and universities. Using nationally representative data on in-state students at public institutions, I find that students from higher income families would receive a disproportionate share of the benefits of free college, largely because they tend to attend more expensive institutions.
This analysis is meant as a starting point for considering the potential implications of making college free, and does not consider the likely impacts of free college on the enrollment rates of students from different income groups. It also does not consider the distributional implications of the revenue side of the free college proposals, such as Sanderss proposed tax increase targeted at affluent families. But it highlights the need to carefully consider the tradeoffs between targeted and universal programs aimed at the goal of increasing educational attainment.
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Why Free College Is Necessary
Higher education cant solve inequality, but the debate about free college tuition does something extremely valuable. It reintroduces the concept of public good to education discourse.
This article is part of special issue of Arguments on the Left. Click to read contending arguments from Matt Bruenig and Mike Konczal.
Free college is not a new idea, but, with higher education costs dominating public perception, its one that appeals to more and more peopleincluding me. The national debate about free, public higher education is long overdue. But lets get a few things out of the way.
College is the domain of the relatively privileged, and will likely stay that way for the foreseeable future, even if tuition is eliminated. As of 2012, over half of the U.S. population has some college or postsecondary education. That category includes everything from an auto-mechanics class at a for-profit college to a business degree from Harvard. Even with such a broadly conceived category, we are still talking about just half of all Americans.
Why arent more people going to college? One obvious answer would be cost, especially the cost of tuition. But the problem isnt just that college is expensive. It is also that going to college is complicated. It takes cultural and social, not just economic, capital. It means navigating advanced courses, standardized tests, forms. It means figuring out implicit rulesrules that can change.
Caveats And Concluding Thoughts
We cannot make policy from evidence alone, but it can and should play a key role. Sometimes, policy ideas have such limited evidence of effectiveness that it is difficult to make any plausible case for a large-scale, national program. In other cases, there is enough promise for pilot studies and competitive grants to establish efficacy. With free college, we seem to be well beyond that point. In addition to decades of results on general financial aid programs, we have a growing number of studies on state and local programs that all show positive evidencethe laboratory of democracy at work. The idea of a large, federal free-college program therefore has more and more credibility.
A decade ago, it was not at all obvious that this is what the evidence would show. There was really no evidence on free college programs when we started this project back in 2009. Also, there were good reasons to expect that such a large increase in aid would suffer from diminishing returnsthe idea that the next dollar is less effective than the previous one. This could have made free college more costly than the benefits could justify. Now, we know better.
Still, it is not often that an idea comes around that addresses a widely acknowledged problem and has both research support and a fair degree of bipartisan political support. The stars seem aligned to make some form of national free college a reality. The more evidence we see, the more that would seem to be a step forward.
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Should College Be Free: Pros And Cons
Many adults go throughout life without a college education, working at jobs that underpay and overwork. Even though everybody wants that American Dream, it cannot be achieved simply because of tuition cost. The cost itself adds unneeded stress on most people and make students doubt whether college is even worth attending. In the end, college
Budget Issues Could Reduce Quality
If government funds become spread too thin, the quality of colleges may suffer. This could express itself in any number of ways including a decrease in available programs. If more students start enrolling in college because it is free, costs will escalate. Unless more money is allocated by the public, the quality of the education will suffer. This could end up decreasing access to higher education rather than increasing it, say those who argue why college should not be free.
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Current Student Aid Is Inadequate And Students Are Forced To Struggle For Tuition Money When They Should Be Studying
Students would be able to focus more on their studies rather than worrying about how to scrape together enough funds for each upcoming school term if college were free. More students might graduate on time, ready to take on important jobs in their communities. The cost of attending a four-year college has increased by 1,122% since 1978. In 1978, a student at a four-year, public university could earn enough in a minimum wage summer job to pay tuition. Those days are long gone. Today it would take more than a full year to make enough. Student aid is just not enough help. For example, today, a federal Pell Grant covers only about 30% of the average cost of going to a public four-year college or university. In 1973 it covered over 75% of the cost.
Why College Should Be Free
A whole range of goods should be publicly provided, financed by taxes, and free of charge to all regardless of whether its the affluent or the poor who use them most. College is one of those goods.
Painting of Medical Hall and College Hall at the University of Pennsylvania in 1842, Philadelphia, PA.John Caspar Wild / World Digital Library
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In the United States, as in many countries, local governments often provide fire protection. In general there are exceptions, but theyre still rare enough to make news this is a free service, available to everyone who lives in whatever jurisdiction provides it. No one has to sign up or pay for coverage. To most people, I suppose, this is a normal and reasonable thing to do.
One effect of fire protection is to stop peoples homes from burning down. As it happens, rich people are more likely to own homes than poor people. And when people with lower incomes do own houses, they are generally less expensive. So, the distributional effect of preventing houses from burning is clearly regressive.
Why should everyone have to pay to keep millionaires mansions from burning? Modern apartment buildings probably arent even at that great risk of fire, what with sprinkler systems and so on. Its the big houses up in the hills that are in the greatest danger.
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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.
High Return On Investment For Education
Education is the source of the greatest positive spillovers in society. Crime tends to be lower the more able we are to make a good living. Were capable of creating increasingly energy-efficient machines, thereby decreasing pollution. Were also healthier the more we know about diet, vaccination, and exercise.
Thats why education merits public support. We all believe in equality of opportunity, especially for children hence taxpayer funding for K-12. None of this, however, makes it immune to unintended consequences.
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Free College Education May Lower The Wage Gap
There is still a huge wage gap between skilled and unskilled workers in many countries all over the world.
This income gaps will trap many low-wage workers in poverty.
However, if those workers are able to get better education since college becomes free, chances are that more of those workers might be able to quit their shitty job and to get a high-salary job instead.
Therefore, better education due to free college education may also provide the opportunity for many people to get out of quite poor working conditions and to increase their wealth levels over time.
Preparation For The Future
College is still an important entry ticket to well-paying jobs.
Many companies still require college degrees if you want to have a leadership role in those firms.
With a good job, it is easier to provide for your family and so on.
Thus, college can be regarded to be one of the most important measures to prepare yourself for your future life.
Therefore, with free college education, more people would be able to get a college degree and their overall chances in their future life might significantly improve.
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Education Boosts The Economy
Critics of free-college plans say that a lack of free education hasn’t impeded American progress rather, access to free college might have spurred it on.
Almost half of all U.S. states already offer programs that provide tuition-free college to select students.
The GI BillÂ® connected more than 2 million veterans to free education, many of whom would have likely never attended college. This national investment in education paid off with a booming postwar economy.
Almost half of all U.S. states already offer programs that provide tuition-free college to select students. Now, more states could adopt similar plans to help those who have lost their jobs due to the coronavirus. Last April, Governor Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan announced her intent to provide free college to the state’s essential pandemic workers.
But piecemeal state offerings may not be enough, as the demand for college-educated workers grows. Proponents of free college warn that without dramatically expanding access to higher education, the U.S. could be left behind as other countries out-educate and outperform.
Why Community College Should Be Free
The question of whether or not to have free community college in The United States is a hotly debated issue. Opinions run deep on both sides, and those positions seem to be deeply held and mostly inflexible. Lately, it seems that more and more people are lending support to the idea of free community college.
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Sleeping On Your Belly
Do you like to sleep on your tummy, but experience problems oftentimes? The position might not help you. If you experience insomnia, chances are that youre not comfortable sleeping in this position. It can tense your neck and your lower back. But if this is how you like to sleep, you might consider using a very soft cooling pillow to keep your neck comfortable.
Con : Free College Would Be Expensive
Some critics of free college say it would be too expensive to implement. If the idea of raising taxes is a no-go with you youre probably not a big fan of the free college idea. Some plans, such as the one Sen. Sanders proposed, would use a combination of federal and state funds to make public colleges tuition free. But many states have been slashing their higher education budgets, so some critics question how the money would be raised to pay for free college.
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Parsing The ‘free’ In Free Community College
“We just want to be careful,” says Jones, “that we aren’t buying into the idea but in reality spending a lot of money on wealthy students not necessarily these students who struggle and then, when the money is running out and 10, 15 years from now we look back, and we’re saying ‘OK, let’s do something for low-income students.'”
The review also found that the programs with income caps often fared better in enrolling students of color. For example, in Indiana, African-Americans account for roughly 10 percent of the state population but 15 percent of 21st Century Scholars. It’s a similar story for Latino students. In the case of Oregon’s program, black students are underrepresented, though Latino students are not.
Oregon official Ben Cannon argues the decision to provide need-blind access may actually drive more low-income students into college.
“Simplicity in messaging is really, really important for these programs. They are, more than anything, marketing programs,” Cannon says. “They succeed because they convince students and their families that college is accessible.”
Need-blind access, Cannon argues, makes it easier for teachers to promote the program in their classrooms and may reduce the stigma some low-income students feel participating in a strictly means-tested aid program.
But Cannon also acknowledges the risk: Every dollar Oregon spends on more affluent students, is one dollar less it has to spend on vulnerable students.
Reasons The First Two Years Of College Should Be Free
College is where students begin to discover themselves, make new friends, and often begin to sink in the quicksand that is the cost of college. Theres no doubt that college is expensive, nor is there any denying that the student loans people take out can wage a heavy and increasing debt over their heads for
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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.
Free College Could Help Close The Opportunity Gap
The old adage that you need to have money to make money applies to the current U.S. higher education system. While federal financial aid and scholarships help students afford college, these resources may be challenging to access and understand, particularly for first-generation college students who need them the most.
Under Bidenâs plan, only students whose families make less than $125,000 a year would be eligible for free college tuition.
The opportunity gap leaves behind minority and low-income students at every education level. The inability to afford college is the last â and widest â gap. For prospective students who don’t have the guidance necessary to navigate existing aid options, universal free college could be a lifeline.
To ensure that free college tuition goes only to those in need, Biden’s plan follows Senator Elizabeth Warren’s by imposing an income limit: Only families making less than $125,000 per year would be eligible.
The concern that the wealthy will benefit from free college more than the poor arises in part from the fact that only a small percentage of first-generation and low-income students make it to graduation. Without the high premium placed on higher education, though, this trend could change.
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