45 million student loan borrowers are 1.56 trillion dollars in debt and growing (“A Look at the Shocking Student Loan Debt Statistics for 2019”). Imagine graduating high school with hopes of achieving a higher education and profession, only to be met with hundreds of thousands of student loan debt. You work your whole life to pay off this debt and support yourself and your family at the same time, only to be met with more debt. In 2016, 69.7 percent of high school graduates went to college (Thompson). Most of them were unable to pay for college tuition straight out of their bank account and were forced to find the money somewhere else, ultimately, putting them into debt that continues to grow and double overtime. Now imagine if college tuition wasn’t a problem, and people didn’t have to take out enormous student loans. Free college tuition would decrease student loan debt, help benefit the US economy and society, and provide more opportunities for people to gain a higher degree of education.
Free college tuition would give students a chance to go to college and finish debt-free. As of 2018, “Student loan debt in the United States exceeds $1.5 trillion. 44.2 million Americans have student loan debt, and 10.7% of those borrowers are in default” (Singletary). Student loans are often the solution to college tuition because most people do not have enough money to pay for a year of college, let alone four years of college, by the age of 18 or 19. These loans come with interest, and interest never stops. Therefore, while you’re out in the world trying to make a living after college and paying for student loans at the same time, your debt is only increasing. Whether it’s an in-state college, out of state, or a private college, tuition is still a required cost.
Past occasions have displayed that the U.S economy has benefited from free-college tuition. In 1944, Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the GI bill, an act that was made to help people in the military, veterans and other people go to college, tuition-free (Glass). This not only gave a large group of society an opportunity to go to college, but it also gave money back into the economy. According to the Debs-Jones-Douglass Institute, ‘cultural arm of the labor party’, “the GI Bill was a tremendous investment for the United States. For every dollar invested in the GIs’ higher education, the government and economy received at least $6.90 in return” (GI Bill of Rights: A Profitable Investment for the United States). The GI Bill helped the U.S make money and aided “22,000 dentists, 67,000 doctors, 91,000 scientists, 240,000 accountants, 450,000 engineers”, and many more people go to college tuition-free (Slack). Moreover, the GI Bill was a huge advantage for the United States, and a perfect example of how we could improve our society now. Millions upon millions of people could go to college, and if effectively planned, money could be put back into the economy.
Everyone deserves the opportunity to gain a higher degree of education and live a more comfortable life. A lot of Americans are unable to afford college, let alone the debt that would accompany it. As stated by Emily Deruy, an educational writer for The Atlantic, “Students from low- and moderate-income families are unable to afford as many as 95% of American colleges” (Deruy). If cost wasn’t a worry, this 95% would decrease by a large amount. Creating an opportunity for people to go to college and decrease the spread of poverty. College graduates, for example, have a lower unemployment rate and earn over 570,000 dollars more across the span of their life compared to high school graduates (Currier). Provided that America was to diminish the tuition for college, our society would be better off financially, and inevitably more content.
Albeit it is apparent that free college tuition has plenty of influential benefits, many arguments against it are presented. One analysis of free college tuition states that the money sponsoring it will have to come from somewhere. Another point presented is that younger generations won’t know how to finance and budget, causing an important skill to be lost. The terminal reason is that college may lose its importance.
The money to fund free college tuition is going to have to come from somewhere, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that America can’t find it somewhere it is being improperly given. There are a ton of things the government funds with money that are pointless and could be going to more important things. So rather than taking more money from taxpayers and cutting important funds, let’s take a glance at some of the things the government finances: $65,473 was spent to figure out what happens to bugs near a lightbulb, around $150,000 was used to try and decide why politics stress humans out so much, $48,500 wasted to do research on why Russians like to smoke so much, and multiple other reported grants and funds were given out by the United States government (“The Ten Most Ridiculous Ways the Government Wastes Your Money”). The problem isn’t whether America has the money to fund free college tuition, it’s whether we decide to stop funding unnecessary programs and put it to something more significant.
If younger generations will know how to finance when college tuition is free has also come into question. People believe that those given the opportunity won’t have to save and budget for college, causing them to not be prepared for other similar situations. Although this is a logical claim, the problem with people not being able to go to college due to high tuition costs isn’t based on improper budgeting. Most people don’t have the means to afford college tuition and loans, budgeting simply won’t change that. “Of the 2,000 colleges examined, nearly half (48 percent) were affordable to wealthy students from families with annual incomes above $160,000, the analysis found. More than one-third of the colleges were only affordable to students with a family income over $100,000. Students from lower income backgrounds, the analysis found, could only afford 1 to 5 percent of the colleges”(NASFAA). Therefore, as the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators demonstrates, worries of whether free college tuition will cause a lack of knowledge on budgeting or not, are unreasonable and invalid.
The final concern of making college tuition-free is whether the importance of it will lower. If anything, it will have the opposite effect on America’s society. With more opportunities to go to college, more people will be able to attend and will raise the value. Americans will see it as a more achievable matter and work harder to reach that level of education. Michelle Singletary, a writer for the Washington Post, states that “Student loan debt has risen 130% since 2008, and public college costs have risen 213% between 1987 and 2017” (Singletary). Prices for tuition and prices revolving around college are increasing every year, making it less attainable for high school graduates to continue their education. Adaptations will be made to compensate for how many people don’t go to college because they can’t afford it until the majority of society is only high school graduates. In the end, free college tuition will have effects contrary to what one may believe.
Free college tuition would overall benefit our society and should be available to everyone. Despite arguments against free college tuition, such as finding where the money for funding is going to come from, financing issues, and college simply losing importance, it is evident that it would be constructive and profitable. Free college tuition could be easily financed by prioritizing government funding and putting it towards a more influential cause. It would also give high school graduates a chance to go to college without all the debt of loans, and a chance, as well, for those who can’t afford it. On top of that, the importance of college wouldn’t lessen but increase due to the greater opportunity for higher education. Free college tuition would change millions of lives, leaving an imprint on society and reformation of the level of education spread across the U.S. It would give people the chance to achieve their goals and overall better the population.
- “ADD TO FAVORITES.” NASFAA, www.nasfaa.org/news-item/11623/Report_Low-Income_Students_Cannot_Afford_95_Percent_of_Colleges.
- “By the Numbers: 1 in 3.” National Archives and Records Administration, National Archives and Records Administration, obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/blog/2012/04/18/numbers-1-3.
- Currier, Erin, et al. “How Generation X Could Change the American Dream.” Trend Magazine, trend.pewtrusts.org/en/archive/winter-2018/how-generation-x-could-change-the-american-dream.
- DeRuy, Emily. “Measuring College (Un)Affordability.” The Atlantic, Atlantic Media Company, 23 Mar. 2017, www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2017/03/measuring-college-unaffordability/520476/.
- “GI Bill of Rights: A Profitable Investment for the United States.” Debs-Jones-Douglass Institute, www.djdinstitute.org/h_gifact.html.
- Glass, Andrew. “FDR Signs GI Bill, June 22, 1944.” POLITICO, 22 June 2017, www.politico.com/story/2017/06/22/this-day-in-politics-june-22-1944-239693.
- Melchior, Jillian Kay. “The Ten Most Ridiculous Ways the Government Wastes Your Money.” National Review, National Review, 3 Dec. 2015, www.nationalreview.com/2015/12/top-10-wasteful-government-expenses/.
- Singletary, Michelle. “Perspective | U.S. Student Loan Debt Reaches a Staggering $1.53 Trillion.” The Washington Post, WP Company, 4 Oct. 2018, www.washingtonpost.com/business/2018/10/04/us-student-loan-debt-reaches-staggering-trillion/.
- Thompson, Van. “What Percentage of High School Students Attend College After Graduation?” The Classroom | Empowering Students in Their College Journey, 10 Jan. 2019, www.theclassroom.com/percentage-high-school-students-attend-college-after-graduation-1423.html.
- “U.S. Student Loan Debt Statistics for 2019.” Student Loan Hero, studentloanhero.com/student-loan-debt-statistics/.