Free college tuition sounds great. Infact, it was the hot topic in the 2016 presidential debate. Bernie Sanders compaised on the topic of free tuition in his platform. Sanders goal was “to relieve student debt and make higher education more accessible” (Hedlin 2). Guaranteed college tuition is a bad idea because it would create a culture of entitlement, decrease the value of a college education and not address the issue of affordability.
One problem with free tuition is that encourages a culture of entitlement. As our culture struggles with the so-called helicopter parent philosophy, these parents believe that their children deserves a college education and the state should fund it. Which leads to the thought that, "Free college education, in fact, is just another expression of the entitlement culture”. (Krason 396) If college is free to everyone then it is viewed as a right rather than a privilege. It also is viewed as a means of necessary to get ahead, and as it’s viewed as a necessity, students become less intellectually formed and do not learn to think critically. (Krason 397) Krason goes on to explain that, “The problem is, of course, that this like everything else about the entitlement culture weakens personal responsibility” (Krason 396). This lack of personal responsibility leads to adults who will have to face the fact at some point that in order to thrive they cannot pass obligations onto others and that includes the obligation to pay for one’s higher education. (Krason 396)
“Another issue with free tuition is that it would open the flood gates and over crowd the capacity to deal with the number of students.” (Cubberly 23) The fear is that the standards will be lowered to accommodate the influx of students. An influx of students that would come from free tuition for all. “If tuition was available to all, colleges would no longer have admission standards as a college education is perceived as a right for all.” (Krason 397) It was also in cress of the taxes up.
One philosophy for free tuition is that it will pump more government money into the college system. “However, increased government funds has not lead to better education (Krason 396).” Tax dollars are pumped into our K-12 education system’s andare still not highly ranked. “ However, unlike the American K-12 system, American college educated students are in high demand throughout the world, unlike K-12, our country post-secondary school’s still are one of the best in the world. (Schumer 161)” Providing free college for all Americans will mean that we must relax the academic standards of our colleges so that all Americans are accepted into college. Removing the admission standards for American colleges will devalue college education.
Opponents of free college believe that it would be bad for America overall. One author sees that the guarantee of “free public higher education will also pave the way for what, in effect, will be more corporate welfare” (Krason 398). To fund this free education will be “an albatross for taxpayers and an incredible economic drain” on the already struggling higher education system (Krason 398). The reality is that there is no such thing as free, someone has to pay for it and that someone will be the American taxpayer. Taxing individuals to pay for higher education in essence grows the welfare state. (Krason 398)
But, does free tuition remove the problem of student debt? It’s not just the cost of tuition that makes college expensive. Bernie Sanders based his platform for free college on a Swedish model whose purpose was to “relieve student debt and make higher education more accessible” (Hedlin 2). The part of the story that Sanders did not reveal was that currently 85% of college graduates in Sweden graduate with student debt compared to a 50% debt rate among American graduates. (Hedlin 2) The reason the debt was increased rather than decreased points to another problem in paying for college which is food, housing, books and transportation. (Palmer 2) None of these costs would be affected by free tuition which means free college is not the same as affordable education. Making tuition free, won’t make college affordable.
Sanders’ plan would depend largely on contributions from the states to supplement governmental funding. The problem with this is that the contributions that states make to education varies greatly from state to state. (Palmer 1) When college funding is left to the states, the funding will vary so that some states with less funding will still have the demand for students without the funding to provide a quality education. If instead of free tuition, making tuition tax deductible would serve as a tax cut which would benefit citizens without placing an undue burden on colleges (Schumer 162). A better fix for college affordability would be tax cuts for individuals to help with affordability without lowering the standards of college admission or overwhelming the current system with students.
Proponents of free tuition argue that education is the key to our future, it’s the same philosophy adopted by our country when the K-12 primary education became mandatory for all. (Schumer 161) The harder it is to get a degree, the worse our future will be. (Schumer 162) The current situation leaves students having been sold on a future they can’t afford. (Palmer 4) They have been led to believe that a college education is required to get ahead but the cost is out of reach for many. Another benefit of free tuition is that research shows those who attend community college have a higher completion rate at four-year schools. (Cubberly 22) Free tuition may not keep students from working but it could keep them from working less hours, which will help them be more success students. (Cubberly 22) The harder it is to get a degree, the worse our future will be. (Schumer 162) The more educated our society becomes, the better off we all will be.
All things considered guaranteed college tuition is just a bad idea. We are already struggling with building a work force in this culture of entitlement and lack of personal responsibility. Making college open for everyone would decrease the value of a post-secondary education. Passing the burden of paying for college off to the taxpayers would be an albatross for taxpayers and still not deal with the issue of affordability because free tuition would not deal with all the costs associated with a college education. While it sounds like a good campaign promise, in reality America would not really be better off for it.
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