Can we afford to make college education entirely free? It’s the most debatable question of the decade with no clear answer. A lot of students having good caliber and potential are deprived of college education because of the high amount of tuition fees. Not many can afford it. Secondly, even if students prefer to go for a student loan, most of them spend their time repaying that debt for quite a long time. This has been a debatable topic for the U.S presidential election as well for quite a few years.
But, it wouldn’t be appropriate to jump into a certain conclusion without weighing its pros and cons which is discussed below:
The PROS of Tuition-Free College
There are a lot of positive sides to making college education entirely free. Especially, it’s a blessing for the students coming from poor financial backgrounds. Here are some of the positive points of Tuition-Free College.
Students from all financial class can get College Education
It can also be considered as a success or an achievement for this nation if students from all financial backgrounds get access to a college education or higher education. Many students drop out of college because they are unable to pay the college’s tuition fee for four years. Having a relaxation in tuition fees or free college education will be a great help for students who can’t afford to pay high amounts of tuition fees. This will drastically reduce the college dropout rates and increase the graduate percentage of the nation.
Students don’t have to bear the brunt of Student Loans
The average money spent by students in America in tuition fees and boarding during graduation is around $38,000. Students have to take loans and then they spend their life repaying the loan. They stay in rented houses, they don’t buy any car, they cut down on their monthly expenses and compromise on the quality of life. If a student is able to graduate with less than $10,000, they consider themselves lucky. With less debt or not debt the graduates can have a better quality of life eventually contributing to the country’s economy.
Students will have the freedom to choose a major they wish to study
Most of the students in America prefer practical majors which give them a high paycheck. But whether it's due to the pressure of parents or the fear of not being able to pay off the debts or the education loan in the short term, students are forced to choose such practical majors so that they get a good salary after graduation and pay off their loans as soon as possible. But if the college fees become free then most students will be able to choose a major or specialization they wish to study or they are interested in rather than being forced by parents or falling prey to their poor financial conditions.
The number of students getting admitted to college will increase
By reducing the college fees or by abrogating the tuition fees of college we will be giving an opportunity to those students who can’t afford to pay the college fees, thereby it will allow more students to come and join college. This will lead to a well-educated workforce that contribute more to a developed economy. We will have a large chunk of a well educated, skilled, and highly qualified workforce.
The CONS of Tuition-Free College
If we look from the other side there might be a lot of drawbacks to the concept of Free college education.
From where will the fund come
If we make the college fees-free for people then the question is where will the money come from? Somebody has to pay for it right, then who is that somebody. Well, no doubt the government will collect that amount in the form of taxes which will lead to an increased tax rate to high-income people. Many people are worried about this thought and are not sure whether this step of making college tuition fee-free is to be welcomed or not.
Students won’t learn about the value of money
Well, one of the things that students learn during their college education is how to use their finances and make the best use of it. If college education becomes free they will never learn the value of money as they don't have to even think about managing their finances. Many students who opt for student loans become more self-reliant and responsible. They plan their career well ahead in life so that they are able to pay off the loan soon and do well in their career. This makes them more capable, hardworking, and independent.
College Education might lose its importance over a period of time
When higher education is free we may see laziness in students. Students may start taking college degrees very lightly and may not give much importance to college classes. Now since many students have debts and they have thought of repaying the loans and finishing the education as soon as possible by saving the most money, they take studies and classes more seriously. Students will start bunking classes and will not even worry about the consequences as everything is free. In order to avoid such situations we many educators believe that we should make sure that they understand the meaning of the saying that” There is no free lunch in this world.” and one needs to struggle and sweat in order to get something.
More and more people will go to college
Now if a lot of people get access to college education then there are chances that there will be flooded with graduates. The country will have enough graduates, so many people even end up doing the kind of high school level jobs for which they are overqualified. Not only this, but even public schools won't have seats for these many candidates, so either they have to make more waitlists or increase the intake capacity which will again result in more funding for infrastructure, classrooms, hiring of professors, etc. The government might find it tough to handle and no benefit of endorsing such an education system.
If college education becomes free, how will private institutions function?
If all public colleges are made tuition-free then private colleges in the country will have to suffer. Many will prefer public colleges which will result in less admission in private colleges. Many private colleges might even shut the colleges due to lack of funds as these colleges run from the tuition fees of students, endowments and alumni donations.
In conclusion, there are quite a few pros as well as cons of making public colleges tuition fees entirely free for students. This thought still looks gloomy in the short term, but there might be a change in the long term. It won’t be fair on our part to reach a certain conclusion as there are always two sides of a coin and we need to weigh both sides equally impartially.