For most people in the U.S, having a college education is one step ahead in succeeding in life. Many job opportunities hire staff based on their academic qualifications, among other criteria. However, as mentioned in the essay prompt, many students perceive college costs as high, leading to debates about making college ‘free” or maintaining the college costs. Making college education free might increase the burden to taxpayers, class disparity, and devaluation of college education, which necessitate only two free years of college as an ideal alternative.
Although free college education will increase access to higher education for poor students, it will lead to other costs and a burden to taxpayers. According to Sanders (2015), “an essential pathway to the middle class now runs through higher education (para. 4). Therefore, more students would attend college if made free. However, that would lead to increased government expenditure on higher education. For instance, Sowell (2016) points out that the cost of educating a single professional is very high, and taking a sum of all the students who would take the free education, the nation’s economy would be in a crisis. Notably, education benefits both the nation and individuals by increasing the value of human capital (Sanders, 2015). However, there are no current strategies to ensure that if college education is made free, the value of human capital will flow back to national wealth. Therefore, making college free would lead to additional costs, a burden on taxpayers.
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Besides, free college education has potential socioeconomic dangers that concern class disparity in society. One of the key reasons against free college education is increasing “class-based differences in attendance levels, institutional selection, and current student benefit levels” (Bruenig, 2015, para.6). For instance, in the current class differences between the poor, working, and the rich, free education would be an unfair allocation of resources since the rich can afford college costs compared to the poor. Ellison (2016) also notes that most students from disadvantaged communities rely on student loans, ideally putting money in their pockets. A free college education would remove such loans, and given that rich parents would save their money meant to educate their children, the class disparity would continue increasing.
In addition, a free college education might cause a bubble of useless academic degrees and professionals. Sowell (2016) raises significant concern about free college education – its perceived value. It has long been known that people do not value things obtained for free like those they have paid for, or how much someone can spend on something depends on their perceived value. In that view, Sowell’s (2016) argument is plausible, that making college free would result in many people obtaining degrees that they do not value, but to get a competitive advantage in the job market.
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Following the perspectives above, it seems that an ideal way to deal with the increasing costs of a college education is to make the two years of college free. The government may implement another more ideal resource allocation plan for education to make it more accessible for disadvantaged students. According to Goldrick-Rab and Kendall (2014), paying the tuition fee for the first two college years would increase the majority of students from poor backgrounds to achieve a college education. Within the two years, they should have found their interests and leveraged the benefits of exposure to higher education. Also, this would make rich students not get an entirely free college education, which will deal with the issue of class disparities. Lastly, the free two-year college fund may be given in the last phase of college to ensure that people who value education first commit to the degree and prove their legitimate need for the college fund.
In conclusion, college costs should not be disbanded, and neither should they remain unaddressed. This essay has shown that lack making college education free has benefits as it does disadvantages such as increasing burden on taxpayers and exposing students to socioeconomic problems. While free education would increase access to higher education for all students, it can increase class disparity and devaluation of academic degrees. Hence, the government should cover the last two years of college education for bright students.
Bruenig, M. (2015). The Case Against Free College. The New Republic. Retrieved 27 January 2022, from https://newrepublic.com/article/123022/case-against-free-college.
Ellison, K. (2016). The Argument for Tuition-Free College. The American Prospect. Retrieved 27 January 2022, from https://prospect.org/education/argument-tuition-free-college/.
Goldrick-Rab, S., & Kendall, N. (2014). Make the First Two Years of College Free – A Cost-Effective Way to Expand Access to Higher Education in America. Scholars Strategy Network. Retrieved 27 January 2022, from https://scholars.org/contribution/make-first-two-years-college-free-cost-effective-way-expand-access-higher-education.
Sanders, B. (2015). Make college free for all. The Washington Post. Retrieved 27 January 2022, from https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/bernie-sanders-america-needs-free-college-now/2015/10/22/a3d05512-7685-11e5-bc80-9091021aeb69_story.html.
Sowell, T. (2016). No way that going to college can, or should be, free – East Bay Times. Eastbaytimes.com. Retrieved 27 January 2022, from https://www.eastbaytimes.com/2016/02/17/thomas-sowell-no-way-that-going-to-college-can-or-should-be-free/.