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Why College Should Be Free: an Investment in The Future

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College education is no longer a want but rather a necessity in order to have a successful and comfortable life. Most high-paying jobs require you to have a bachelor’s degree and some type of work experience in your field. College tuition is higher than it has been in years and it continues to rise, according to Wiener in “Aiming Higher: Make College Tuition Free” he states that “The University of California provides an example of the problem. In 2014, in-state tuition and fees for undergrads totaled $13,222 for one year. And UC isn’t even the most expensive public university: in-state tuition for the current school year at Penn State is $18,464. (The cheapest is the University of Wyoming, at $4,646 for one year.) As a result, two-thirds of college seniors now graduate with an average of $29,000 in student-loan debt”. 

With tuition being so high and a lot of students having to pay out of pocket, it makes it impossible to continue with their education. Republicans and Democrats can agree that the cost of higher education is outrageous, “On both sides of the aisle, the fact that student debt is growing and the fact that so many households now can’t participate in higher education because of cost, links both parties to do something about it” (Bennett). Even with higher education and a paying job, the debt of tuition, books, and housing makes it is nearly impossible to thrive. A lot of people aren’t seeing the importance of this issue since it is believed that only students are affected. College education affects every person who is a part of society, due to such an increase in tuition rates a lot of states and countries are trying to make education free.

Some people believe that free tuition is going to hurt the same students that it is helping now. In the article “What’s Wrong with Guaranteeing a Free College Education,  Krason dissects Bernie Sanders’ speech and states how he makes a lot of great captivating points on making college tuition free the biggest problem with that is that the current students “will be the ones left holding the bag as taxpayers to sustain it in the future—when it will become massively more expensive than it would be even now”. The “free” higher education will pave the way for corporate welfare passing the responsibilities to train onto the government. Most European countries have chosen to make college free or have an income-contingent loan system which ensures that no tuition fees are paid upfront. According to Murphy in the Economics of Education Review article, England’s shift from no tuition to a low tuition fee is due to an “increase in funding per head” and the gap of not being able to know the difference between students who “need it and other who can afford to pay”. Other countries and states that have free colleges have come across similar problems. Another big issue that can’t be controlled is that even with free tuition it will not change the motivation of students. In “Does Free College Work?” it mentions how after the Kalamazoo promise was implemented there was only a 4% rise in students who decided to attend college in three years. When broken down, it is shown that “Those receiving the most dollars from the program have been female, white and from middle- and upper-income families” (Mitchell). College being free does not change the circumstances or motivation that students need in order to attend a four-year college.

Even though this forms a strong position about students and how college should not be free what it overlooks is that the price of “tuition” is putting students and colleges in an undeniable predicament. There will need to be overall cuts in most colleges in order to keep these schools running. USA Today has an article called “Colleges Get Creative to Cut Cost” which explains how colleges are trying to find any way to cut down costs to “symbolize deep overall cuts, due to funding going down and enrollment going up hitting a 25-year low in 2018” (Oliver). At Penn state, they cut down “all you can eat” to “all you care to eat”. They are canceling free printing for students and changing indoor pools to track and field since it is a more “budget-friendly sport”. With these budget cuts, students are forced to limit not only their college experience but also their education. A lot of students who have scholarships in “water polo” or any other aquatic sports are forced to pay out of pocket. If they are not able to afford it, most students drop out because they do not want to take out a loan that will cause them to be in debt for the next 30 years.

Small private colleges are worried about the new free-tuition plan which only applies to public state colleges. As stated in Private Colleges Fear Effects of N.Y.’s Free-Tuition Plan “Tuition covers more than 95 percent of the budget of small private colleges, In-state tuition is listed as $6,470 at SUNY’s four-year campuses and $4,370 at two-year colleges. That compares with an average of about $34,000 at private colleges” (Mangan). A lot of students won’t be able to meet all the requirements and their “free” money will just turn into loans. Which is why in 2015 President Obama announced that he will try to bring a policy that will reverse decades of “tuition based” colleges. As Collier states in Americans ‘Support’ the Idea of Tuition-Free College: An Exploration of Sentiment and Political Identity Signals Otherwise “With the community college reform legislation passed by the New York Legislature there was an immense amount of positive effect on the state taxpayer based of the Obama proposal”. With tuition being free it opens endless opportunities not only for kids, but everyone who will work for it has an opportunity to constantly train themselves for better jobs. This investment will allow the workforce to compete with anybody in the world and it will ensure that businesses will always stay here in America instead of moving offshore.

Even though the idea of free college seems a little out of reach, it is currently the reality for over 15 countries and thousands of people. Unfortunately for the United States, we are falling behind, since only some states have implemented free tuition. We are wasting America’s brainpower, people that could be contributing to medical breakthroughs, economic advances, and leadership in all fields. Even though free tuition is the goal, what needs to be understood is that with it being “free” someone still must pay for a student to get their education. In “Tuition-Free College May Cost Less Than You Think” by David Deming, he mentions how “Eliminating tuition at all public colleges and universities would cost at least $79 billion a year, according to the most recent Department of Education data, and taxpayers would need to foot the bill”. If we can remove or lower college tuition, there would be less need for payment programs, this will allow for all students to not only focus on their studies but also give them the motivation to attend college. With students having higher education and more jobs being insured in America, there will be an increase in lifetime earnings which increases tax revenues and cuts down the long-term cost to the government.

As college tuition continues to rise in the United States, the number of people who will be able to attend will also decrease. Having free tuition is not a matter that only affects students, but it affects society as a whole. College is no longer a want but a necessity in the workforce, which is why it is an investment in our country. With free tuition, motivated students will be able to focus on their studies and changing the world rather than the stress of paying thousands of dollars. Encouraging people to get a higher education makes sure that the United States can step up and compete in the global economy.

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Why College Should Be Free: an Investment In the Future. (2022, April 29). GradesFixer. Retrieved May 22, 2022, from
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