Over the past few years there has been much debate over whether college tuition has risen to a level where many people are wondering is college worth the cost. College tuition has continuously increased for the past twenty years. Thus, making parents, current college students and even some college graduates reevaluate the importance of college. Not to mention the job market for graduates with a four-year degree are not as promising as in earlier generations. Forcing many students to consider getting an advanced degree which still does not guarantee finding a job in their particular field of study. After all, many Americans have the dream of living the “American Dream” go to college, then get a good job, followed by getting married and having 2.5 kids. However, the economic state of the country has many Americans in a state of confusion. Although some Americans will agree that the system of higher education is working well, many have differing opinions on the subject.
College affordability is often among the top concerns. When the cost of attending college, university, or trade school is too high. Therefore causing a lot of students to simply choose not to pursue a higher education. And that leaves many of them ill-prepared to find good employment, let alone attain the American dream. But high costs also leave some college graduates with levels of debt that hamper their abilities to attain at least a middle-class lifestyle. This debate deserves a discussion of not only pros and cons, but the reality of whether the rise of 4-year universities tuition has a direct effect on people of a lower-socioeconomic background.
Why Should College Be Free for Everyone?
Many advocates for free college believe the current education system in America is failing to provide an adequate education for a reasonable price. According to the Department of Education the average annual increase in college tuition from 1980-2014 grew by nearly 260% compared to the nearly 120% increase in all consumer items. Thus, proponents of free college have confidence that free college will not only benefit the entire nation, but families who come from the lower-class. Which would allow them a chance for social mobility from one social class to another.
The issue of why college should be free isn’t just an economic issue, but also a moral and ethical one. The question many advocates asks to naysayers is “Does every American deserve the right to an education regardless of social standing so they can have an equal opportunity for life, liberty and the pursuit happiness?” They contend the morals of which this country was founded on, but not always followed have stipend the ability for disenfranchised people of America to move up from the lower class to middle or upper middle class. Therefore, without affordable access to quality higher education for everyone, the collective intelligence and goodwill of the nation will erode. Also with the election of current President Donald J. Trump many Americans wonder will free college ever be a real possibility or will the needs/wants of the upper class always have a part in the fate of people from the lower class?
Ultimately, many supporters of free college state several reasons why college education should be free. Here are three commonly cited reasons why college should be free:
- A better-educated population could result in smarter decision-making at every level of society, which could lead to faster progress in solving our most difficult, collective challenges.
- Students would be able to focus more on their studies rather than worrying about how to scrape together enough funds for each semester. As a result, more of them might graduate on time, ready to take on important jobs in their communities.
- Graduating with high amounts of student loan debt has been shown to reduce a person’s chances of owning a home, getting married, having children, and accumulating wealth.
“Free Public College” is a Flawed Policy
Adversaries of free college tend to believe that such an idea would be too expensive for the federal and state governments to maintain long-term. As a consequence, Americans may have to start paying much higher taxes. And that, they say, could hurt the economy since people might have less to spend or invest. They advocate if America starts handing out free degrees it would compromise many of the principles this country was founded on. Such as the mindset where everyone has the same opportunity to “pull themselves up by their own bootstraps”. This ideology would suggest that everyone in America has equal opportunity to go to college and make their way up to the middle class.
Recently with the push for tuition-free college the key question many naysayers have is “What happens if public generosity does not keep pace with rising college costs, increases in demand, or both?” They suggest that if colleges decide to open their doors for free, they won’t have the resources to adequately educate students. Opponents would also suggest that free college plans assume tuition prices are the main obstacle to student success. When studies would propose otherwise for example, community colleges where federal grants cover the price of tuition for the average low-income student. In spite of free tuition only one-third of students from the bottom income quartile who started at a community college in 2009 finished with a degree or certification by 2016.
These numbers would suggest that college success is not based on the function of tuition prices, but deeper problems. Here are a few other reasons why some people oppose free college for everyone.
- With more people choosing to attend public colleges because of their tuition-free status, many schools might have to create wait lists or expand the ones they already have. State budgets could become strained, which might lead to cuts and decreased access to the programs that students want to take.
- Many students would still have to borrow money for their living expenses as well as for books and supplies. So, they wouldn’t get to leave school completely debt-free.
- Students might take their college education less seriously if they don’t have to pay for it. So graduation numbers might drop, or the people who do graduate might not be as well prepared for the workforce.
In the end this debate may be a bit controversial depending on what side of the coin you fall on. However, maybe some sort of middle ground can be met by making public education at least affordability for all people. What are your thoughts should college tuition be free for everyone? Comment below & if you enjoyed this post please comment, share & like!
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