My last post on college was about how to make college more affordable for everyone. I presented a few ideas that have been mentioned by various people and an idea that I personally believed could help. Now, with this post, I am going to focus on one of those specific ideas: making college tuition free. Now, this has been a hot topic, especially as of late with the rise of Bernie Sanders. Sanders has been very adamant about making college tuition free. While he has been adamant, many have questioned how this could possibly be done; with many, such as Hillary Clinton, saying that it is not feasible at all. Personally, I think this can be done, but I think it would be very difficult to achieve in this capitalistic country as it is now. So let’s break this down a little bit.
How would tuition be made free? We all have heard this saying, “Nothing in life is free.” If college becomes tuition free, somebody is paying for it. Let’s look at some ways in which this could be paid for.
- Bernie Sander’s Tax on Wall Street Speculation. So, I had no idea on what this was when Sander’s first mentioned it. He is proposing a tax on Wall Street to make them pay for it. This would me the funding would not come out of the pockets of everyday working Americans. We will see if this is attainable, if Sanders is able to get the Democratic Nomination and wins the General Election. Even though this would pose some difficulties, I think if it could be done, most of us would be perfectly fine with it. Free tuition for everyone, no extra cost to everyday working Americans.
- Some sort of new Tax. NOBODY would like this obviously. Any increase in taxes would be met with disgust and anger. However, this idea seems more feasible than trying to slap a tax on the wealthiest, most powerful institutions who would definitely fight back. Now with this, we will have to analyze whether the addition of a new tax (or increased taxes) would be worth getting rid of tuition costs, and effectively eliminating student debt. I am sure there are those such as myself who would have no problem paying higher taxes if it meant future generations will not have to deal with student debt and allow everyone to have the option of going to college. However, there are those who will not want to do this We will need a numbers breakdown to prove that this to work.
We should remember that free tuition college does not mean that college will be without costs. I am assuming that payment for text books and other class materials, along with any Room and Board, will still be needed. Paying for just class materials and campus housing would be better than having to worry about that AND tuition costs.
With debates on tuition free college, others have mentioned “affordable” college over “tuition free” college. It would be more feasible to make college affordable than to make it completely tuition free, however, we still have to have some type of funding to get that done.
I had a great talk with one of my good friend about the ways in which we can make it more affordable without running into a wall of issues. Here is what he said.
- More emphasis on other options than colleges. Let’s be honest here. A college education is in such high demand that prices will continue to rise. People will continue to pay anything to get that diploma that says they are a college graduate. That being said, college prices will continue to rise as long as we have more emphasis placed on college. This is a capitalistic country, as you know. So if we want to bring the cost for colleges down, let’s put more value into other forms of education and training, such as trade schools, apprenticeships, and certificate programs. These and other options exist for people to become successful and contribute to society in their own way. It may necessarily come in the way of funding for these options. It could be simply having employers recognize education and training from these institutions as qualifications for a position, instead of blocking people who do not have a college degree. By gearing away from college as the best and only option, we would decrease the demand in college, thus decreasing the cost of college. This would also give people more viable options for higher education based on their personal goals.
Now, what would a post like this during an election year, be without responding to the main candidates who have spoken about college affordability: Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton
- Bernie. Yes, I love Bernie Sanders ideas of college being tuition free. I am even all for taxing Wall Street in some sort of way to pay for it. However, I have to ask these questions since this idea will not be implemented with ease. Is it that simple to just implement a new tax on the wealthiest people in the land? Won’t more need to be done to accomplish that? Also, being that this plan will be nothing less than difficult to pull off, what is a backup option that is more feasible that will help us get the desired result of free tuition college?
- Hillary. You say that we should make college more affordable, not free. You say in response to Bernie, that his idea will not come through fruition and that we should not be paying for “Donald Trump’s children” to go to college. You do say interest rates on student loans are too high and should be lower. I agree with you on that. However, despite the interest rates, the amount of money that millions of people have to take out will still be large. For example, if I have to take out loans totaling $70,000 and have a low interest rate of 2.8%, the interest rate is not bad, but it is still expensive and will take me years to pay back. That is especially if the job market is not looking well for their particular field of study or in general. Also, I support the idea of more funding for Pell grants and such, but that does not address the issue of the actual cost since not everyone will get these sort of grants. How can we lower tuition costs that continue to increase?
Overall, I would like free tuition for public colleges. I believe that since we have free K-12 public school system (even though it is far from stellar), I think it is about time that we establish the same for public colleges. However, I do understand that this would be a huge undertaking for colleges in this country. With that being said, making college affordable for everyone would be fine as long as we recognize the talents and skills of individuals who decide on a different path than college. Since we put emphasis on a college education for getting jobs, the least we can do is make it free (or at least affordable) so that everyone can get this education.
Sanders on College
Hillary on College
Obama Administration on Higher Education