Free college is an attractive proposition for most Americans and non-Americans since tuition fees are increasing rapidly in the US. However, like any complex question, there is no clear answer to whether college should be free.
The debate on free college education took wings when Senator Bernie Sanders campaigned for the cause back in 2016. It was met with skepticism back then, with people questioning the source of money and its benefits for students.
However, this has been a significant policy point for Democrats since then. In fact, President Joe Biden put forth a free college plan during his presidential campaign. The proposal included free four-year college education for those whose families make less than $125,000 per year.
Since most students face financial constraints worldwide to complete their college education, the concept of free college can help them reach their education goals easily. Although the free college model is a reality in some European countries, the United States debates it.
Although this concept has pros and cons, the following two vital points resonate with the public, making them favor free college education. The two crucial aspects are:
The arguments for debt-free education include personal benefits and how education serves to impact society as a whole positively. Fortunately, technological advancements are allowing us greater global access to education.
Although there is still a long way to achieve this objective, it may be possible to reach this goal as time progresses.
Here are some reasons why college should be free:
Improvement in society – Education is a tool to address societal challenges better. Thus, better-educated students can combat the problems more wisely than others.
Furthermore, educated people will better understand society’s past and current economic realities. Consequently, individuals may be more likely to join in politics and work to improve their country.
Another important aspect is that university education results in skillful individuals. This means that more people will enter the labor field, potentially narrowing the income gap between the upper, medium, and lower groups.
Creates a better future – Higher education or a higher degree is the vital means to unlock great earning potential. In fact, college causes social mobility and helps graduates get into stable positions after graduation.
Although K-12 education in the United States is still free, postsecondary education is not. Additionally, today, we see that Bachelor’s degrees have surpassed high school diplomas as the minimum requirement for most occupations.
Thus, most students take out loans to continue higher education. However, approximately 10% default on these loans.
It’s also seen that existing financial assistance such as scholarships and student debt forgiveness schemes have failed to assist students in affording degree education. A free university education, thus, can help students shape their future better.
Boosted economy – According to a recent survey from EducationData.org, the average student loan debt stands at $39,351. In fact, most students graduate with huge debts that may take years to pay off.
Students who graduate with this massive debt will undoubtedly continue to add to it with interest. Consequently, it may take considerable years for them to pull themselves out of debt that only seems to grow.
Alternately, graduating without any debt could accelerate people’s abilities to earn, save, and spend. This aids in stimulating the economy and indirectly helps boost job opportunities. In fact, it creates a virtuous circle of economic activity.
Furthermore, the dread of falling into debt after graduation can ultimately push students to give up on education. Thus, if debt were not a factor, the younger generation could be more inclined to attend college in the first place.
Seal the opportunity gap – The US has allotted federal financial aid and scholarships to help needy students. However, they can be challenging to get, especially for the first-generation ones.
This gap between the opportunity and beneficiaries is termed to be the opportunity gap. Low-income group students and minorities are the ones who are affected by this the most. Thus, a universal free education could be a lifeline for these students who lack the help required to navigate existing aid choices.
To sum it up, the idea of free college has piqued the interest of many young people. Although Biden favors free community college and (to a lesser extent) free four-year college, only the former has been reintroduced since his election.
Additionally, like a large-scale student debt forgiveness program, the free college model is subject to congressional approval. Thus, until the much-needed approval, students can opt for open online courses, vocational schools, and employer-paid programs.
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