Higher Education in the United States Should Not be Free

Shep Slack, Columnist

Should a Higher Education in the United States be Free?

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  Americans are starting to believe that college should be free. I wish I did not have to pay for a higher education, but sadly the idea of it is completely unrealistic. Any plan proposed by new “progressive” political leaders of America that would reduce the cost of college tuition to $0 would undermine the quality of higher education and unjustly put the financial burden of college tuition onto all Americans, even those who don’t need college. No higher education should not be “free.”

  The American college system is a means of social mobility, to move upwards in class, to make more money. Paying a hundred thousand dollars to get a diploma is an investment in yourself and your ability to find a better job to make more money. The goal of making college free is to lower the economic barrier that prevents people from being able to attend. The problem is that there are systems in place that already do that, and they work; around 27 percent of students who are currently enrolled in college do not face any cost for tuition or fees (Urban Institute). Federal aid and grants are set up to work for those who are in poor economic situations, if not bringing the cost to $0 already, cutting it in half helps a lot. Making public college free does not lower the economic barrier to attend, it would wipe out private colleges leaving only government funded higher education programs.

  The biggest issue with free college is that it stunts innovation in education and greatly lowers the quality of education. Private institutions have long been known to be more prestigious than publicly funded universities. These institutions have such excellent programs because of their higher cost of tuition; if public colleges tuition was free private colleges could not keep up in enrollment and likely die out or cut costs by lowering their quality of education. Public colleges have less incentive to innovate since they have less to gain from improving. They don’t have to worry about closing their doors because their costs are paid for by tax money. Private colleges on the other hand have everything to lose if they do not find new and more effective ways to deliver better and higher quality education. Free college would stop innovation in education completely and greatly hurt private schools.

  It’s estimated that Bernie Sanders’ new plan would cost 70 billion to cover college tuition alone, and along with cancelled student loans around 2.2 trillion dollars in ten years. Bernie says he will impose a tax on Wall Street, this would greatly hurt the economy and business sector, making it harder for businesses to raise capital that they need to be able to expand and make new jobs. The costs would continue to grow and so would our National debt. Free college would never work, the system would collapse financially, higher education would be devalued and crippled, and hard working Americans would have to unjustly pay for it all.