Educationis one of the most determinants of the fate of the nation goingforward. As a result, policymakers need to get it right. Americanshave different views regarding college affordability some believethe current system of higher education is working well whereas othersbelieve that the cost of pursuing higher education is too high andhence need to be reformed. Currently, the state offers children aright to free public school education till they complete 12thgrade.Nonetheless, they do not have a right to higher education, and thismeans that a lot of students choose not to pursue a higher educationsince the cost of attending university and college is too high. Thosewho opt to use debt to finance their learning areleftwith high levels of debt that hinder their capacity to live a goodlifestyle even after employment. College affordability is thus a keyconcern and leads to the question whether colleges should be free.Free college education would guarantee a large percentage of people aright to higher education reducing social inequality and alsoboosting the economy. It would ensure an economy with more workerswith associate degrees.
Freecollege education would guarantee that a large number of studentspursue higher education after elementary and secondary education.Currently, the high tuition fees discourage students from pursuinghigher education. Consequently, making tuition free at publiccolleges is important. Germany abolished college fees since italleged that charging scholars $1,300 every year was discouragingstudents from joining university and college. The other countrieswith tuition-free higher education at the Master and bachelor levelinclude Sweden, Slovenia, the Slovak Republic, Estonia, Turkey,Finland, Norway, Denmark, and Estonia. The idea is thus not radicaland since other countries have adopted the free college education, socan the United States. The free education would benefit theindividual students and also the entire nation. It would thus haveprivate and public benefits. Currently, most jobs require graduateswith advanced technical and knowledge-based skills. Free collegeeducation would thus fill employment gaps and ensure that the economyof the nation grows faster. More students would acquire well-payingjobs, and this would mean that more dollars would circulate theeconomy as people spend more when they have a good source of income.A large number of employed people would also pay more taxes thatwould be used by the government to fund the free public universityand colleges. Better-educated citizens would also mean to moreprogress in the society due to better decision-making skills.
Thebenefits of offering free higher education are evident for thestudents, the economy, and nation at large. All sectors would getaccess to a larger pool of certified and skilled workers they arelooking for.Presently, there is a student –debt crisis that is delaying thefinancial maturation of borrowers and stifling economic activity.Accordingto a survey conducted in 2016 bythe "National Association of Student Financial AidAdministrators," 52% of young people with student loans notedthat the debt had hampered their ability to purchase a car (Kiernanpar. 1). Also, 55% reported that it hindered their ability to buy ahome whereas 62% argued that the debt caused them to delay saving forretirement. The federal government profits from the student loansprogram. Over the next decade, the government will earn more than $110 billion on student loan programs (Friends of Bernie Sanders par5). Students that take up loans to pursue higher education are thusnot able to enjoy benefits of higher education as it takes up manyyears to pay up. Some students pay more for a shortchanged educationand commit themselves to a life of debt (Samuels 128). For suchstudents, higher education leads to more social and economicinequality instead of greater income and social mobility (Samuels128). Students with hugeloans are indentured students the debt is a form of exploitation andslavery especially due to the high-interest rate. Millions of youngadults who have graduated pay interest rates of five to seven percentor more for decades (Friends of Bernie Sander par. 7). There is thusa need to ensure an open the door to higher education for thecitizens. A free college education provides such a door and wouldensure that the students would not beburdenedby college loans that prevent them from owning a car, home andaccumulating wealth. Bernie Sanders, a former candidate for theDemocratic presidential nomination, argued that education is thefoundation for full political as well as economic participation andall prosperity accrues from such full participation (Sanders par.1).Consequently, he noted that all persons, regardless of their station,should be able to access education. A tuition-free college educationis a development that would lead to American prosperity. The movewould ensure a stronger democracy and a more robust economy wherebyall young persons with talents and ambitions would realize their fullpotential, in spite of their social background (Sanders par.1). Afree college education proposal was also put forward by formerPresident Barrack Obama in 2016. Obama vision was for a tuition-freecommunity college. Other politicians such as Hillary Clinton andElizabeth Warren also proposed their ownplans for tuition-free community colleges and also "no loan"tuition in colleges. The huge backing by the prominent politiciansshows that the free college education is possible.
Opponentsof free college education argue that it would strain public budgetsand crowd out innovation. They argue that it would be too expensivefor the government to maintain and hence unrealistic. The taxpayerswould pay higher taxes. Nonetheless, the benefits of a free collegeeducation outweigh its challenges since higher education is worth theinvestment even if the government would have to spread the federalmoney across all students. Also, a more educated workforce withwell-paying jobs would pay the taxes required to finance theeducation. Theyounger generation would no longer be burdened by student debts.The opponents also argue that college may not seem as important, butthat might not be the case as the free education would lead toinnovation in all areas of society.
Freecollege education would reduce social inequality. The current highereducation sector is not addressing the access issue. Access to highereducation is necessary for individual students and the entiresociety. In America, pursuing a postsecondary degree, especially abachelor`s degree, generally leads to greater job choice, higherincomes, financial security, satisfaction and other outcomesconsidered safe in the society. Nonetheless, access to highereducation currently is mainly based on merit and family income. Alarge percentage of students from low and middle-income families donot join universities and colleges since the fees are very high (Hillpar.2). They are also less likely to graduate. Hence, highereducation is not supporting social mobility and equal opportunity asit should. Free college education would provide an equal opportunityfor every qualified American. Students from all income groups wouldhave equal chances to attend colleges and universities, and hencechildren from low-income families would have an opportunity toimprove their social and economic life. Access to a college educationwould increase income mobility for the students from low-incomegroups (Hill par. 2). Students from low income and middle-incomefamilies also significantly take up loans. They graduate with highamounts of student loans, and this reduces their social mobilitysince their chances of accumulating wealth and purchasing homes andcars are limited. Access to higher education and its returns are moreconcentrated amongst children of well-to-do families sinceuniversities and college compete for such students (Hill par. 2). Afree college education would ensure equal opportunity for all andexpand educational opportunities across America.
Currently,a large percentage of bright young adults do not attend college dueto the high tuition fees. Millions of others leave colleges anduniversities with so much debt that burdens them for decades andprevent them from living even a middle-income lifestyle. There isthus a need to ensure that all Americans who work hard can attendcollege in spite of the income level of their families and withoutgetting heavily indebted. A free college education would play afundamental role in ensuring equal access to higher education. Itwould reduce social inequality and boost the economy.
Friendsof Bernie Sanders. “It’s Time to Make College Tuition Free andDebt Free.” Bernie. n.d. web. March 30, 2017.https://berniesanders.com/issues/its-time-to-make-college-tuition- free-and-debt-free/
Hill,Catherine. “Income Inequality and Higher Education.” ACE. October6, 2015. web. March 30, 2017.http://www.acenet.edu/the-presidency/columns-and-features/Pages/Income- Inequality-and-Higher-Education.aspx
Kiernan,John. “Should College be Free? Experts Pick Sides.” WalletHub.Sep 9, 2016. web. March 30, 2017.https://wallethub.com/blog/should-college-be-free/24403/
Samuels,Robert. “WhyPublic Higher Education Should be Free: How to Decrease Cost and Increase Quality at American Universities.”New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2013.
SandersBernie. “Make College Free for All.” October 22, 2015. web. March30, 2017. https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/bernie-sanders-america-needs-free-college- now/2015/10/22/a3d05512-7685-11e5-bc80-9091021aeb69_story.html