Pros, Cons, and Alternatives of Free College

“There is little reason to believe that free college would increase the number of students who would graduate, and reason to fear it would reduce the quality of, and access to, a college education. This could hit low-income students the hardest” (Eden 3). This quote provides evidence that if college tuition is to become free it would not increase the number of college graduates and the quality of a college education would decrease.

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However, many people argue the cost of college is too unreasonable for students that come from lower-income families. This doesn’t make sense considering that most of these students don’t even have to pay the net tuition to attend a community college. Even still, only about a third of these students will end up graduating (Eden 1). Thus, college tuition should be not free because it would reduce the quality of a college education, decrease student motivation to graduate, and would be very costly. On the other hand, a great deal of people claim that college is far too overpriced for students that come from lower-income families. As a result, people assume these students aren’t able to attend college or are overwhelmed by debt. Nationwide, the student debt has reached $1.4 trillion and on average students are graduating with $35,000 in loans or more (Cuomo and Brooks 22).

Now that college has become so costly, it is argued that education has become unequal in regard to lower-income students and higher-income students. On average, low-income students in the United States don’t have to pay for net tuition to attend a community college (Eden 1). Also, most college graduates are already able to repay their student loans (Eden 2). In summary, some people believe that college tuition should be free in hopes that lower-income students can afford a college education. This way these students would get the same job opportunities as students from higher-income families. People claim that this would help the nation’s economy and make education more equal. Though this is a convincing argument, studies show that free tuition would be very expensive. In fact, some critics think it would be too expensive. Plus, it would raise taxes. For example, plans like the one Senator Bernie Sanders proposed would use federal and state funds to make four-year colleges tuition free (Josephson). In order to do this, part of his plan calls for $750 billion dollars in federal funding over the course of ten years. This shows just how costly making college tuition free in the United States would be (Kelly 39). It is plans like these critics are saying would be uneconomical and raise taxes. Implementing a free college plan is also risky because where the funding would come from is sometimes questionable. Not only would making college free be expensive, but there is proof it would reduce the quality of a college education and decrease students motivation to graduate. Many public universities use tuition to help fund their programs.

If universities had to rely on taxpayer funds it is probable the quality of college education would decrease. This may happen because when states balance their budgets education is commonly cut. For example, in Germany, universities have been tuition free since 2014. As a result, its universities aren’t normally ranked very high and not much individual attention is given to students during class (Cuomo and Brooks). Additionally, there is research that shows students that must earn money to pay for at least some college costs are more likely to work hard to graduate. In a Washington Post essay, Chenny Ng, an education policy researcher at Northwestern University supported this argument by writing, “As the cost of attending college drops, so does the perceived cost of dropping out” (Cuomo and Brooks). Overall, making college tuition free could harm the quality of a college education and cause more students to drop out. In the final analysis, it is true that earning a college degree should be something that is accessible to everyone but making college tuition free would not be the best approach. This is because it would be expensive to implement, would reduce the quality of a college education, and student motivation to graduate would decrease. Though some believe college is unaffordable for lower-income students, the majority of students that come from lower-income families receive financial aid making their tuition free. Also, making college free would raise taxes and be uneconomical. Plus, the quality of a college education would most likely decrease if colleges had to rely on state funding. Additionally, students would be less motivated to graduate if they didn’t have to pay for college. If college should be free or not is an important and controversial issue, so it’s crucial to have an opinion on it. Though making college free may seem like a fine idea, it would do more harm than good to the United States. Getting a college degree should be more accessible to people from all walks of life, but making it free would be an ineffective solution.

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