In today’s high-tech, global economy, education provides young Americans increased opportunity to enter the workforce and establish pathways toward rewarding careers. Because a well-educated workforce is essential to economic progression and the running of a modern society, it is in the best interests of the government to invest in the education of the nation’s future workforce.
Public schools in the United States provide free tuition for kindergarten through 12th grade, funded primarily from local and state taxes. A growing movement, mostly of young Americans, is advocating for extending free tuition beyond 12th grade. There are over 18 million students enrolled in the United States at nearly 5,000 colleges and universities, charging as much as $40,000 a year for tuition fees, not including living expenses.1 On average, it is 400% more expensive to go to college today than it was 30 years ago.1 According to Mark Kantrowitz, the average student debt for the class of 2015 is about $35,000.2
The crushing debt and rising tuition costs are becoming increasingly burdensome to new college graduates and may deter some from pursuing college educations. Rising college tuition costs will adversely affect lower income families disproportionately, creating more permanent socio-economic divides between social classes in the United States. However, opponents of free college education argue that an influx of federal money may encourage administrators to increase the spending per student, increasing the overall cost of tuition.3 By offering free tuition to upper and middle class students, compounded by the increase in student applications which would accompany free tuition, rationing of strained public budgets would ultimately result in less resources for those who truly need financial assistance as well as a lower quality in education overall.3 Finally, free education is not free, it simply shifts the costs from the student to the taxpayer.3 Rather than recent graduates living frugally to pay off their personal school debts in a few years, they’ll be paying increased taxes for the rest of their lives to cover the tuition costs of all who follow.
Free College Tuition
Should the federal government cover the costs of college tuition?