Free College Education… Is It Possible?

Olivia Mobley, Opinion Editor

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While many American students are worried about the costs of higher education, there are a number of countries which currently offer free college tuition for students. These countries include Norway, Finland, Sweden, Germany, Slovenia, and France. Is it possible that the United States be the next country added to this list?

The rising costs of higher education was one of the hot topics during the 2016 presidential election. During the Democratic primary, Bernie Sanders, a Vermont Senator, made making college tuition free a campaign promise.. On his campaign website, Bernie Sanders explains why college education should be cost free to help eliminate debt and make students all have equal opportunities.

The idea of being debt free is intriguing to many students, especially after hearing the horror stories of people paying off their college debts well into their middle of their thirties or later. Americans should be able to go to college and gain an education without the fear of having to pay off their debts for the rest of their lives.

According to collegedata.com, “Colleges charge tuition by the units that make up an academic year, such as a semester or quarter. Tuition at public colleges is often a bargain for state residents, but not for out-of-staters, who often pay double the tuition of residents.”

However, this is hardly a bargain considering the fact that in 1996, the average public four year college was $2,966. This was only 20 years ago.

The costs of tuition also can vary by major, and there are a variety of different costs for each university such as supplies and room and board.

The average costs of a public four year college is $9,410 in-state students and $23, 890 for out-of-state students, according to research made by The College Board.

While the costs of an education can seem  daunting for many students, there are options available for them such as financial aid and the opportunity for scholarships to lower their tuition. However, students are still concerned with how expensive college can be.

Recently, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo proposed a new plan which would guarantee eligible students in the state of New York to attend a state college and have their tuition costs covered. Eligible students are those whose family  earns  $125,000 or less a year, but this is the cutoff in 2019. The number will continue to change each year.

Both Governor Cuomo and Senator Bernie Sanders believe that high tuition is not the way to set students up to succeed. They also feel along with many other Americans that college being less expensive could open up more opportunities for students from lower income homes.

Milford senior Danielle Cummins, 18, believes that universities offering free tuition would be a very good option to offer students. “I think it’s a really good idea to have this option because it takes away the stress of debt, and people will work harder and strive more for their goals.”

Cummins also believes that students will be able to focus on their future more instead of focusing on having to pay.

According to an article by CNN, free college tuition would actually help a lot more people. “In 2009, 60 percent of public school graduates had taken out a federal loan to finance their education, according to The College Board,” the article states.

The concept of free tuition isn’t exactly a new idea in the United States, either. There are some states or cities that already have programs set up for community colleges for students who meet certain academic requirements who need financial aid.

While free college education might seem like a grand idea in theory, giving students free tuition may take away their incentive to work hard for their education. When students are not having to pay for their education, the concept of gaining an education may lose some of its respect that it receives today.

A Forbes article written by John Ebersole, he states, “The idea of “free” college degrees comes at a risk. If students don’t perceive value in the credentials, they may not remain committed to their attainment; a degree that costs nothing could be valued accordingly.”

Not to mention that free education, like anything else that claims to be “free,” would actually end up costing money. Free tuition would end up in an increase on taxes in order to pay the universities.

The question of whether or not the US will be added to the list of countries with free tuition is one that will be debated again and again this year.

The concept of being debt free when starting a new life out of college is one that many students can only dream of, but at what cost?

 

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Free College Education… Is It Possible?