Topic Proposal: Free College? Sounds Great.

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Current Situation

A problem that many university students face is the heavy costs of tuition that steadily increases each year. According to To Boost the Economy, Help Students First, Sheila Blair states that “student debt now stands at $1.3 trillion”, and many students struggle to pay for their college expenses. This leads to many students graduating from college to barely sustain a living with their job’s starting salaries. The problem here is not that the students chose a low paying career but, it is that the cost of going to college almost outweighs the benefits of a degree. I became interested in the subject of free college tuition due to the issue of college forcing students to take on the heavy burden of loans in order to pay for tuition. In fact, it’s unfair for households that make above a certain income to pay for the full cost of tuition while families, with a small income difference of 1000, receive enough financial aid to cover tuition. Many scholars and politicians argue the removal of having to pay for college all together would then allow more students opportunities to go to their desired college.

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Free Community College

One of the first community colleges to reinstate free tuition is the San Francisco City College. The major motive for the removal of free tuition is the increasing wage gap and “wealth inequality.” In the New York Times article, San Francisco to Offer Free Community College to Residents: Mayor, Jane Kim said that “to reverse those [wage gaps…] we can … [invest] in our citizens”. With the plan in effect, a huge step forward is taken in increasing the wealth of the nation and decreasing the tyranny of the 1 %. Students would not have a student debt to pay and graduating from college would allow them to immediately work in their profession without having to worry about paying off their loans. I believe the reason for why San Francisco City College became free is to decrease the wage gap and to help the life of citizens prosper. This will definitely reduce the amount of students ridden with student loan debt and allow for many opportunities to open up for the rest of the future generation. At the same time, on the other side of the United States, New York proposes a similar plan for students with an income below $100,000. In accordance with Cuomo Proposes Free Tuition at New York State Colleges for Eligible Students, Jesse McKinley reveals that “under the proposal, the state would complete students’ tuition payments by supplementing existing state and federal grant programs — essentially covering the balance, though administration officials said some students could have their entire four-year education covered”. Basically, the program will be paying for the costs that grants alone cannot pay for and will ensure that the student will have a free college education. My predicted result from this is that an increase in the number of students applying for New York State Colleges and the competition for the acceptance would increase. Another positive effect would be a reduction in student debt. However, where will the money for tuition come from?

How can a free college education be free?

In the article, The Problem Is That Free College Isn’t Free, Andrew P. Kelly argues that the cost of free education would be at the expense of taxpayers. He emphasizes that the taxpayers would have to pay more taxes and if a large number of students were to enroll, the state’s budget would take a hit and end up “turning away … students”. Kelly brings up a great point that makes this topic more complex. The tuition costs would come from the citizens and the government. What effect would this have on the economy? Many students would have less student debt to shoulder and many more students that did not have the opportunity to go to college will be given the opportunity to. The gaps between wealth will decrease because more people would have graduated college and are able to work for higher than minimum wage jobs. Although there are numerous benefits to free tuition, some may argue that this is only beneficial to the students who decide to attend university. This would be the argument that the opposition would present because there is a majority of the population who decided not to attend college. Despite not attending college, citizens would still be forced to pay the tax to impliment free college tuition. Taxpayers would have an increase in the amount of taxes they would have to pay but, it benefits society as a whole because of the increase in specialized workers coming from universities.

References

Bair, Sheila C. “To Boost the Economy, Help Students First.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 21 Dec. 2016. Web. 14 Feb. 2017. <https://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/21/opinion/to-boost-the-economy-help-students-first.html>.

Kinley, Andrew P. “The Problem Is That Free College Isn’t Free.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 20 Jan. 2016. Web. 14 Feb. 2017. <http://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2016/01/20/should-college-be-free/the-problem-is-that-free-college-isnt-free>.

McKinley, Jesse. “Cuomo Proposes Free Tuition at New York State Colleges for Eligible Students.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 03 Jan. 2017. Web. 14 Feb. 2017. <https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/03/nyregion/free-tuition-new-york-colleges-plan.html>.

Reuters. “San Francisco to Offer Free Community College to Residents: Mayor.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 07 Feb. 2017. Web. 14 Feb. 2017. <https://www.nytimes.com/reuters/2017/02/07/us/07reuters-sanfrancisco-college.html>.

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