The higher education in the U.S is in a state of crisis. The increasing tuition cost at learning institutions and the persistent rise in student debt in the country has triggered the need for tuition-free education. Advocates of a nationwide program of free education cite that giving everyone free access would ultimately contribute to a positive change in the society and economy. On the contrary, opponents of the program argue that the concept could be costly for both the federal and state governments and attract higher taxes to the citizens. This paper precisely examines the two stances while highlighting their strengths and weaknesses and provides a personal rebuttal of the opposing views.
The idea of freely funded education historically dates back to the founding fathers. The Morrill Act of 1862 facilitated land-grant universities and colleges to be established on federal lands. The aim of the Act was to ensure that many Americans freely accessed higher education. Therefore, in the early years, learners could frequently attend land-scholarship colleges without necessarily paying any tuition. Nowadays, the price of attending several public colleges has increased such that students fail to afford (Stephen 396). The cost has been on the rise even during extended economic stagnation. Hence, only a few students from lower-income homes attend these learning institutions while the majorities who attend come from upper-income families. In 2015, student debt stood at $1.3 trillion, a higher percentage compared to the previous three years. Indeed, the relentless increase in student debt is a wakeup call for a tuition-free college education.
Free college education would benefit the whole nation and not only the individual scholars who have access to the grant. Former U.S President Barrack Obama proposal for free community college during his reign was a great idea although it did not achieve sufficient traction at the federal government (Sara & Andrew 55). Today, more people including professors and authors support the need for tuition-free education and continue pushing for the changes. Currently, many professions are knowledge-based and necessitate advanced technological skills. Therefore, a well-educated workforce in the entire nation would assist fill up several of the skills gaps that prevent the country's economy from growing quickly. Tuition-free education can empower people to try better ideas, contribute their talents, and chase their dreams if they did not have to begin off in debt or remain stuck in a low-wage occupation. Consequently, people would be happy and this would translate to a more wealthy country both politically and economically.
Solving collective challenges could be easier with a well-educated population. Some of the challenges faced in the modern society require the involvement of a well-informed population to address them accordingly. Students would have higher chances to concentrate on their studies instead of worrying where to garner enough funds for their tuition (Peter 126). This would translate to timely graduation and ensure that many take well-paying jobs in their respective communities. Recent studies have revealed that graduating with huge student loan debt is likely to diminish an individual's chance of living a prosperous life.
Although many people believe in the benefits that free college education could bring to the society, a few opponents still hold alternative views. For instance, the concept would attract unimaginable costs, which may hinder the long-term maintenance by state and federal governments. Some economists believe that the idea would see more citizens paying huge taxes, and this could destroy the economy indirectly. Diverting funds to aid in tuition-free colleges could affect the students attending the private institutions. As such, they may end up losing access to federal financial support. It is estimated that if many people acquire the college degrees the worth of those degrees could diminish. This could translate to an increased number of people lacking employment based on their qualification.
Tuition-free education as foreseen by opponents has strengths and weaknesses. The major strengths include building a workforce that is educated and skilled to contribute to the growth of the economy (Buchanan & Wilson 68). However, the concept is surrounded by one major weakness. There is a likelihood of hurting the national budget and increasing taxes to the Americans. It is worth noting that the current financial aid system in the country has failed to offer an equivalent chance to many eligible Americans. As such, there is the fear that even the new idea might disappoint more people because of budget constraints.
Several countries like Japan, Canada, and South Korea have clearly proven that tuition-free education is not compulsory for building a well-informed population. In that sense, improvements should be done on the current education system to ensure equal access to grants to all people who are qualified. The idea that the program could hurt the national budget by the opponents is vague. This is a fact because in countries like Finland, Sweden, Denmark, and Poland, among others, tuition-free education has been established without hurting their budget and increasing taxes. Despite the manifestations of great achievements with the American education for all, unrivaled evidence has been able to reveal that there is a great deal of inequality with the American education.
College affordability is a subject of top concern in the U.S. As of 2017, student debt was recorded at $ 1.4 trillion across the country in accordance with the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. This fact is an implication that more students continue taking loans whereas reimbursements rates have slowed. Many students fail to attend colleges, trade schools, and universities simply because the costs are too high. The failure to pursue a higher education leaves many people ill-equipped to obtain well-paying employment. Increased costs also leave other scholars with huge debts that hamper their capabilities to achieve a middle-class lifestyle.
Buchanan, Lori Elliott & Wilson, Kristin Bailey. "Free Community College and Merit Scholarships." New Directions for Community Colleges, vol. 2017, no. 180, pp 67-74.
The article keenly examines the impact of free community college to the learners and the Americans using relevant examples and illustrations. The issue of merit scholarships on colleges is well addressed.
Peter, Berkowitz. "Speak up! Colleges and Universities honor free inquiry in theory, but not always in fact." Hoover Digest, no.3, 2017, pp 125-28.
This forum explores the challenges facing the current education system in the country and sheds light on important things that should be implemented to help the students.
Sara, Goldrick-Rab & Andrew Kelly. "Should Community College be Free?" Education Next, vol. 16, no.1, 2016, pp 54-61.
Sara Goldrick-Rab in this forum suggests a costly proposal, one that comprises funding for scholars living plus other operating costs. Nevertheless, Andrew Kelly opposes the idea citing that it will hurt public financial plan and crowd out innovation.
Stephen, Krason. "What's wrong with Guaranteeing a Free College Education?" Catholic Social Science Review, vol. 22, 2017, pp 395-398
The article examines the challenges of establishing and offering free higher education. The author also explores some colleges that were promoted by Senator Bernie during the 2016 Democratic presidential race.
Van Aelst Kevin. "Should College Education be Free?" The Wall Street Journal. March 20, 2018. https://www.wsj.com/articles/should-college-education -be-free-1521558856
Different facts and important statistics are illustrated in the article. The current financial aid system is examined and its weaknesses revealed.
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