Free college is not actually free for students

free college

Dylan Burkett/The Cougar

The promise of free college is misleading as it only brings new economic strains onto individuals.

Recently, one of the main selling points for members of the Democratic Party to young adults has been the promise of free tuition for all. 

While that may sound like a sound deal, especially for all students frustrated with the amount of tuition money needed for each new semester, it comes with strings attached. 

Although college should not be completely free, the cost of attending college should indeed be reduced to a more manageable level. 

A Georgetown University report concluded that college tuition prices have risen by 169 percent since 1980 and are only expected to continue rising despite the COVID-19 pandemic raising tuition prices during 2020.

With a potential recession facing the nation, prices for tuition seem even more likely to rise during the coming years. 

This also means that master’s, doctoral degrees and professional degrees will be even harder to attain for those from low-income backgrounds or those struggling with paying off bare necessities. 

While people may opt to find work with only a high school diploma instead of paying for their degree, the Georgetown University report also found that today, two out of three jobs require at least a bachelor’s degree, a dramatic shift from the 1970’s when only one out of four jobs required a bachelor’s degree.

The idea that free college will resolve the tuition issue is also not realistic. 

For most other countries around the world where college is free, taxpayers are usually the ones who pay for higher education fees. To impose a system where taxpayers are forced to provide for those seeking higher education would be an additional strain on taxpayers. 

In addition to a higher tax rate, students attending free universities like in Norway, Finland and Germany still have to consider that these European countries have some of the highest costs of living. 

Students still have to pay for other additional materials not paid for by the university and master’s, doctoral degrees and professional degrees are not free in most European or international universities that offer free college.

Seeking higher education is an extremely individual choice that people tend to make considering their current economic situation. 

There is no universal rule that dictates individuals have to pursue college or higher education after obtaining their high school diplomas or bachelor’s degrees. 

It is okay to work in a stable job first and then attain a college degree whenever aspiring scholars feel economically secure to make an investment in their education.

Maintaining the choice for individuals to pay for their own education at the time they see fit is a more flexible system that does not automatically place an economic strain on taxpayers through a higher tax rate nor does it increase costs in other areas of living. 

JJ Caceres is a political science sophomore who can be reached at [email protected] 

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