Should College be Free?
If you follow the recent news, you would have noticed that there is a lot of talk about making college free for everyone. So, the question is, should college be free? The demand for free education in America is on the rise. As the saying goes, nothing comes free. In six points, we will discuss the possibilities and adversaries of free college.
1. What and why is Free education?
College is a place to learn, a time to experience, and a space to dream. One walks into a college with the dreams of making a successful life in the future. As everything has its price, college education has its too. Colleges in the US are expensive. Almost all the students take loans to help finance their college tuition. These student loans accumulate their interest, and the students are neck-deep in their debts even before completing college. These loans last for a very long time. Some students graduated more than a decade ago, and they are still paying tuition. But this is not the story worldwide. In some European nations, education is cheap and even free.
Here in the US, the government, politicians, and college institutions have to decide to work together to provide free education. In the current economic conditions, getting a college degree is becoming increasingly important. According to a Pew Charitable Survey, a college degree gives one a chance to escape poverty by 90 percentage.
2. What does free college tuition mean?
Free education means liberation from the burden of education loan and student loan debt and can choose their courses on their own. The institutions cover tuition expenses. The student will have to pay the necessary expenses like their food and accommodation and availing other services during their course. The student would only need to raise money to pay those bills and not the tuition fee.
3. Impact on Student lives
The average American household spends a fortune on their children’s college education. Thanks to the loans, a student graduate’s college with an average of $30,000 student loan debt. And these loans last for a long time.
A free college enables the graduate to pursue higher studies or find a job without having a constant reminder of their debt. This also means the possibility to use one’s potential to its maximum. When education is provided for free, the students can spend more time concentrating on studies than finding ways to support themselves through college. It, in turn, helps the student to get better scores and aspire for better remuneration while finding a job.
4. Families and parents.
For every family, sending their children to college is either pride or custom or both. However, many families accumulate a lot of debt in doing so. If the college if free, families could break up their reserve for a college fund and provide themselves with better living conditions. Many people could eat better, clothe better, and live under better shelter. In short, they have better necessities for life. Quite a few unprivileged families could not afford college fees and chose to find blue-collar jobs to survive. When provided with an option of free education, children from these families get a chance to earn a college degree and find high paying jobs, thereby raising their standard of living.
5. Government and Institutions
The government will turn out to be the sole bearer of the expenses if a college education is made free. The government will have to keep aside a chunk of money in their budget. They will also have to find ways to raise money. Having the Tax Wedge at 31.7%, the US might not be able to provide the quality of free education as European colleges do. The government might have to raise taxes to fill in the cuts. Money, in large volumes, is received in universities and colleges as a charity. The institutions will have to optimize their spending on the endowments received via fundraisers and charity.
Similar to any spending by the State directly or indirectly boils down on the common man. The society is expected to take a hit due to the free education. Even though the end benefit is primarily for themselves, society might be the ones to take on the initial burns of a tax rise. The government also might have to re-channel budget resources from various public works to college institutions.
The burden in making college free, the society themselves will reap the benefits for many. But there are a lot of downsides too. If we make the colleges free, who will pay the colleges? Does the government pay? Private organizations? Non-profits? And the biggest question is – Would the quality of education go down? In conclusion – these are the questions that we, as a society, have to address and answer.