Concerning the growing issue surrounding the financial stability of college graduates in the United States, the concept of a free higher education system has been examined as a possible solution. By eradicating tuition costs of public and private universities, the citizens of the country will carry less of a burden affording the surging cost of living post-degree. I will contend this position by examining the historical reasoning behind free public education, the issue of educational inequality, and the ability to reduce the debt of college graduates.
The United States is perceived as a powerful first-world country, that supplies opportunity for its citizens to advance freely. America has the undeniable capability of providing its citizens the rights which are granted to them in the U.S Constitution. An essential right that has been excluded from its importance to our society is the absolute right to an education. Free higher education wields the solution to the mass amount of student loan debt, the lack of political knowledge and participation, the need for employees for the professional fields, and the financial gap between the rich and the poor. Many of the setbacks these younger generations are facing on their path to adulthood stems from the accessibility to advanced learning. Moreover, free instruction for citizens seeking a degree will better advance the future of this nation to prosperity.
Higher education also referred to as post-secondary education, which is the “optional final stage of formal learning”. The avenues a young adult can take to advance their learning includes community colleges, public or private universities, and online schools for adult education. These institutions provide adults from various socioeconomic backgrounds the knowledge to pursue a career of their choice. The impact of a costly education affects Americans’ financial stability. To reform our education system would in turn produce a strong workforce with a smaller wealth gap. Based on the educational equality all people are to be afforded, this access to free higher education extends to all colleges and universities for their tuition fees.
Horace Mann was the man who created the American Common Schools in 1838, which became the first form of free public education for children in America. Mann’s ideology of widespread education comprised of an education of equal opportunity that could prevent the major national disputes that arose around the time. As he indicates in his book Lectures on Education, “the mobs, the riots, the burnings, the lynchings, perpetrated by the men of the present day, are perpetuated, because of their vicious or defective education when children”. He concluded that a proper education could prevent civil strife. Historically, the more battles we face as a nation, the more educated civilians we need to generate to combat them. The principles held by Horace Mann for a free public education system parallels the positive change a free higher education can have on this country in the 21st century. Free higher education ought to follow in the footsteps of history, beginning with free elementary public education, to the growth in access to a college degree, and begin transitioning into a free of charge education. The demand of a degree from the economy is steadily rising, along with the demand from the college-ready students. It is time for our government to uphold with the ever-growing standards of education in this country. The same principle of access for a more prepared society upholds itself with each sector of our educational system. In order to uphold a standard of quality education for all students, not only does education need to be prioritized, but the foundation of a market economy abolished. The price of a college education should not reflect a perceived status or value. No longer should there be an undue financial blockade placed upon on the development of our young adults. The better educated our society becomes, the more answers we will have when the time comes to solve the pressing issues, and conjure answers from issues caused by the previous generations.
Free higher education is a democratic concept that has the goal of providing for all people, rather than allowing only those who can afford it to access a college degree. The concept of for-profit universities and the skyrocketing costs of attendance to all others is filtering out capable students and consequently making eligibility less about qualification and more about financial status. Those from the top financial quartile in the United States have completed an average of 4 more years of schooling than those of the lowest quartile. The higher family income group also enters college by age 25 at a nearly 80% increased rate than a 30% rate from the lower income group. People attending college come from homes with a higher annual household incomes than students who are not attending college. This trend of wealth equaling higher education continues throughout the levels of higher education. The top and most prestigious schools attract the wealthier and more privileged students in our country. Access is our biggest combat to the educational inequality that is dominating this country in almost every aspect. By allowing our citizens free access to degree of their choice, we will create the opportunity to have the professionals of our communities coming from our communities. Americans will have more opportunities to become productive members of society, regardless of socioeconomic background. Many oppose the idea of a free higher education due to the concept of value depreciation. It is argued that total access would lessen the value a degree currently holds. Higher education being free of charge would only reflect the normalization of a college education. Free education is a democratic ideal, that values education for all. As a country, it is important that we help our citizens provide a common standard for all people. The subsequent to free higher education would be a more politically informed and active population with less crime and more competitiveness in the professional fields. It is time for the culture of American society to release its ideals of profit and invest in the development of the country from the inside out.
The truth of the matter is, those with a college degree are beginning to suffer as well. Today, there are about 1.4 trillion dollars accrued from student debt in America. This debt came from people in this country who invested money they may not have into an education that is supposed to lead them to success. The cost of living in the United States is on a constant rise, and the extreme expenses of an education is detrimental to the development of young adults’ independent lives. College graduates are becoming less able to buy homes. Research from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth shows that graduates will purposely avoid the additional debts associated with buying a home, or are unable to get a loan for mortgage because of low credit scores from their student loans. Due to the high price of a college education, students are making the decision of whether to attain a higher education based on financial ability. Statistics show those in the lowest percentile of income being more likely to pursue an associates’ degree, while their wealthier counterparts are more likely to pursue a bachelor’s degree. Jobs which require a bachelor’s degree earn more on average earn than jobs that require an associates’. This concludes that the wealth gap at this rate will continue to increase as long as a higher value of educational attainment is available to the same economic class. A college degree is the most promising way to upgrade a financial status. It is known as the ‘great equalizer’. A tendency that we are currently having is that the educational status of grandparents is no different from their children, and the consecutive generations. Free higher education could realistically eradicate this educational and financial trend and give young adults a step forward in advancing into their adult lives. Those who currently have obtained a free higher education are considered advantageous in the forthcoming steps of their lives. If we granted everyone this right, graduate’s struggles to buy a car, buy a home, and pay for the ever-growing expenses of daily life will be much less of a burden. Education ought to expand students’ motivation and effort towards success, rather than the financial worries associated with the high costs of college.
Ultimately, the question of free higher education should be answered with the value of an educated population prioritized. Colleges and universities should be free, so that students in America experience less obstacles towards becoming productive members of society. The future of our country will get to spend their money on their needs, families, and future endeavors. By granting a free higher education to our citizens, we would be arming our young adults with the tools to use against the universal problems that we are supposed to fix on the path to an efficient world and quality life. The world is changing, and education rather than being a selective separation of class, our country will grant the free educational right and privilege that is afforded to every citizen whom wishes and qualifies.
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