Tuition-free college encourages academic commitment


The average student who takes student loans will leave college with around $30,000 in debt. | Pablo Milanese/The Cougar

Imagine attending a prominent public university — an institution of higher learning that offers some of the best courses, professors and advisers a student could hope for.

Unfortunately, this university requires tuition. To pay this tuition, students have to work a part-time job in between classes. These students pay for college out of pocket, so they’re forced to take less classes to focus on their job and pay even a portion of their tuition.

If they didn’t have to pay tuition, they would be able to finish their academics and start their careers sooner.

Now visualize UH, and think about all the people who go to our school who have been forced to focus more on how to pay for tuition than their actual academic careers.

This is why we need tuition-free public universities. It levels the educational field for everyone who desires it.

“(Making college tuition-free) would affect me in a positive way,” said electrical engineering junior Ermias Kebede. “I’m paying out of my pocket. This would actually help me finish my school earlier than what I’m expecting right now because after work I have to take lesser classes.”

Relieving students of the pressures of debt will give them the opportunity to focus more on their studies and let those not-so-well-off have the opportunity to seek higher education.

Like all reforms, the underlying issues of tuition-free public universities are ideology and implementation. Do we just focus on Texas and hope for the best for other states? Or do we call for a nationwide focus, like presidential candidate Bernie Sanders is doing?

The even bigger question is: how do we pay for it?

It’s a real possibility that everyone would have to pay more taxes in order to achieve this, but this could be solved in Texas by applying a progressive state income tax rate instead of a sales tax. Have those with higher incomes pay more in taxes, while those with low or middle incomes pay low to moderate taxes. It is not a new idea. This idea of implementation, however, has caused some to question whether it would really help students at all.

“It wouldn’t be free for the students,” said economics junior Stephen Nunez. “It will just mean that they will pay higher taxes and lose more of their future income for the rest of their working lives, as well as those that never went or don’t want to go to college. So free will be more expensive for everyone.”

This is a serious concern for anyone who wants to relieve students of student debt. What would higher taxes do to people in the long run of a state? Is it fair to make people who have no desire to go to college help pay for it? This question goes back to the issue of ideology.

I would rather have a government in the spirit of charity than a government that executes prisoners, denies women accessible health coverage, or refuses to implement a taxation system that does not benefit the wealthy. I believe the responsibility of the state should be focused on making college more affordable for its citizens.

It would be tragic for any potential student to focus more on how to pay for college than how to accomplish their academic duty. What is the academic duty? It is what Woodrow Wilson described.

“You are not here merely to make a living. You are here in order to enable the world to live more amply, with greater vision, with a finer spirit of hope and achievement. You are here to enrich the world, and you impoverish yourself if you forget the errand.”

Opinion columnist Samuel Pichowsky is a political science sophomore and may be reached at [email protected]


  • Sammy … single payer education would be the same as single payer healthcare. The government would chose who gets educated based on loyalty to the state. And I don’t think that Sammy would be on that higher-ed list.

    ‘ol Sammy … why should the People of Texas or US be responsible for paying for your education? In Texas we have a property tax instead of an income tax.
    Now Sammy … citizens being burdened with both, would start leaving Texas for Belize, just as they are leaving California and New York, Illinois … places where SocDems have failed, and always look to the rich for that extra dollar to squeeze. But soon enough they will run out of rich to soak.

    Sammy … you’ve fallen for Bernie Sanders’ drug … “the Promise of Free.” But you haven’t been exposed to the bad side of Bernie’s Socialist ideology, and its very ugly. Have you seen the movie “The Lives of Others.” They had free college educations in East Germany well and family members of disavowed were removed from their college placements.

    Sammy … do you even have a job to be taxed for other peoples higher education? Come to think of it, ‘ol Bernie didn’t earn a paycheck till he was (40) FORTY.

    You wax eloquently of a Utopian World that cannot possibly exist without massive loss of freedoms.
    Sure, you might get a free education, but not all would be allowed worthless degrees in political science, if the major is even allowed by on high. You’ll be assigned what the government needs people be educated in to run their command economy.

    Yes Samuel, you are misinformed in practically in every aspect of your life. The KKK was never associated with the Republicans … they were a military wing of the SocDems.
    In fact, ex-Senator Robert Byrd, SocDem-West Virginia, was a Grand Kleagle of the KKK. Do you condemn that?
    Nevermind it was not mentioned, but still your thinking is totally bent, and you make yourself the fool when you publicize your thoughts.

    • Interesting. I don’t think anyone in Scandinavia or Germany has to prove their loyalty to the state before getting a higher education. In fact, when I was going to do my study abroad in Germany I was told that they were actively trying to attract American students with free tuition because they were having a hard time keeping up full enrollment in country.

      • By loyalty, I’m talking of not speaking out or acting against the state. If you witness something that you were not suppose to witness, such as secret police bugging your neighbors apartment; if you mention the event to the neighbor, something bad will happen to you … stuff like that.

        As far as free tuition given by Germany, I don’t see how they can afford that now, with their immigration problems. .

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