Tuition Free College; Is It Possible?

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As a prospective college student, I’ve spent a lot of time weighing the pros and cons of tuition free higher education.

On the surface, it sounds fantastic, right? There actually was a time in America’s past where students went to public land-grant colleges for free. In fact, The Morrill Act of 1862, signed into law by Abraham Lincoln, donated public lands to fund colleges that taught agriculture and mechanics, and provided funds for colleges so people wouldn’t have to pay to attend. This worked for one reason; an extremely small percentage of Americans attended college at the time. Eventually, funding from the states shrunk in correspondence with a rise in students attending college. This forced schools to charge tuition from students, and not the state.

Free college tuition isn’t really free.

Colleges have buildings to make, professors to pay, and programs to run. If students aren’t paying, who does? The taxpayers. Students go to college to study different things. I would suggest repayment programs for students studying health sciences, industrial arts, and engineering. These majors have high post-grad employment rates according to a study conducted by Georgetown University. Should the government decide what degrees to fund? If a student is studying something that, in the long run, won’t benefit society, should society be forced to pay for their education?

Free tuition would likely limit choice.

The government would decide what colleges should receive federal funding, and private institutions (with potentially higher quality education) would fail to compete. The government has more control over education when they fund it entirely. Countless studies on Common Core and from No Child Left Behind show that government control over education reduces the quality and creates a bureaucratic system of learning, something that I don’t want. I doubt that the government would be effective in accommodating  national education needs. The Department of Education would have to tend to the needs of each region, in each county, of each state. This is a responsibility some don’t think the government can handle.

Rather than rely on the government to provide education, I believe that we should rely on the people.

In a free market system, colleges would be competing to receive the best students from every social class. This would drive down tuition rates and would simultaneously promote affordability and quality. In America, we don’t exactly have a free system of college. The federal government is a very prominent figure in each university and community college. In 2010, President Obama signed legislation forcing private banks out of the student loan process, meaning that the federal government would be the only lender of student loans. Now, with more and more money being given to students with financial aid, colleges have driven up tuition. Colleges know that they couldn’t charge students ridiculously high rates, but with the reassurance of the government paying, they can easily get away with it. This creates a massive burden on taxpayers.

I think that I would rather work hard, receive good grades, and apply for merit-based scholarships that I’d earn, and wouldn’t be handed, than force taxpayers to pay for my degree.

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