Do you think college should be free? This is a classic question that has a complicated and arguably unclear answer. College education affordability and the current student debt crisis are always important factors to consider. Free college has pros and cons, as with any major decision. Here are the positives and negatives of tuition-free colleges.
Should College Be Free? 4 Benefits
We should start off on the positive side when answering the question, “Should college be free? ”
1. Student Debt Will No Longer Crush the Younger Generations
American college students who graduate with less than $10,000 in student loan debt are considered lucky (the current average is $37,700).
Student loan debt is rare among students from countries that already offer free college. Living expenses, books, and materials make up most of their costs.
It is possible that more college graduates would buy houses rather than rent apartments without the burden of student loan debt. There is a possibility they will buy cars, spend more on healthy food, and take additional vacations. This would result in a wealth of benefits for the entire country, including lower healthcare costs.
2. If College is Free, More Lower Income Students Might Graduate
It is common for students to drop out of college because they cannot afford tuition all four years. More than 50% of students drop out of public universities because they cannot afford it! Due to costs, 79% of students delay their graduations by switching to part time or returning later.
College being free would eliminate this reason for not graduating. As a result, fewer students would feel the need to drop to part-time status or take a break from education because of financial constraints.
3. Students Can Have More Freedom to Choose a Major They Enjoy
It is common for students to feel pressured to take certain majors. Cost no doubt plays a role, whether it comes from their parents or society. After graduation, they might worry about paying off their student loans. Consequently, many students choose “practical” majors that are more geared towards income rather than their passions and interests.
Parents and students might feel more relaxed about studying for majors without a large paycheck if college was free. Students who are interested and enjoy the field of study are more likely to stick with it and avoid burning out – which can also increase their graduation rates.
4. More People Would Go to College
It is possible to increase the number of students attending college by negating the high cost of a college education. The result is a more well-educated workforce, better critical thinking skills, and greater innovation across a variety of industries.
Should College Be Free? 4 Downsides
In addition to the benefits of tuition-free colleges, there are also some downsides.
1. The Money Has to Come From Somewhere
Where would the money come from if America switched to tuition-free college? Taxes are the short and simple answer.
If this passes, it seems certain that the upper echelons of American society will see increased taxes. In addition to the upper middle class, it could affect those in higher income brackets, or it might come from Wall Street speculation taxes.
In order to make college free, someone has to pay for it, and the uncertainty of who will pay for it is not making Americans comfortable.
2. College Might Not Be Taken Seriously
Some students may not take college seriously because it is tuition-free. Due to the fact that it’s free, they may sign up for classes randomly instead of pursuing a major. Those who switch majors constantly, study less, or skip classes may do so. Perhaps they are simply not suited for college, but their parents encouraged them to sign up or they want to “get their money’s worth.” Some students only find motivation at college when they realize how much it costs them or their families every semester.
Too many students taking this route can also take up resources meant for more serious academics, thereby increasing taxes.
3. College Education and Experience Could Decrease in Quality
If colleges and universities receive less money, they may have difficulty providing top-notch education to their students. There may be a decrease in faculty and staff salaries, equipment may not be replaced in a timely manner, and the campus may not receive the maintenance it needs.
In addition to paying for their classes, students help the school afford housing repairs, library resources, and landscaping.
4. More People Would Go to College
College being free could actually diminish the value of a degree. Since everyone can afford one, they may become more common and lower salaries for those with bachelor’s degrees. As a result, individuals may be forced into fields they’re overqualified for or required to get a master’s degree where it wasn’t previously a requirement.
Colleges have a limited amount of space! As more students apply to schools, more will be wait-listed, and it may be harder to get into less competitive colleges.
If College Was Free, What About Private Institutions?
College could decline if it were free, resulting in a decline in private schools. Private schools rely heavily on tuition, endowments, and alumni donations for funding, so competing with free public colleges could force them to close. There would be fewer job opportunities for professors and many fantastic programs may disappear.
Should college be free? It’s not as straightforward as it seems, and there are a lot of factors to consider. A free tuition system could certainly benefit society in a number of ways. In order to make it a reality, however, there are a number of challenges to overcome. Can you tell me what you think? If you believe college should be free, let us know why!