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Should college tuition be free?

University tuition fees and funding. A massive concern for so many students. Photo by www.exampapersplus.co.uk

On August 24, President Joe Biden issued a plan for forgiving student loan debt which caused a multitude of questions, with one being: Why are students paying for college in the first place?

When we break down the question, we are forced to see the truth about attending college. It is both a privilege and a luxury. Not everyone is able to afford this luxury, making it inaccessible to a majority of others.

Some may argue that this is what makes education valuable. I’d argue that everyone deserves a chance to receive an education, regardless of income. Students can still prove their education to be valuable by working hard and achieving their degrees.

“I believe college should be free because debt is a huge roadblock for people who may want to attend,” said Mandalynn Sorrentino, an early childhood education major at Cuesta College. “However, an educated individual is more valuable to the workplace. By providing free college, it can boost morale and increase graduation rates.”

According to a recent study by the University Professional and Continuing Education Association (UPCEA), about 42% of college dropouts cite financial reasons for leaving school, outweighing the percentage of students who left for other reasons like family commitments (32%) and health reasons (15%).

“College should definitely be free,” said Samantha Morris, a nursing major at Cuesta College. “Each person should prove their worth by studying hard, not by how much money you paid to get in.”

Some students do not agree that college should be free. The flip side of this question is also important to consider: If college was free, taxes and the cost of living may go up, and right now in this economy, people are barely getting by as it is.

Would other people’s potential education be worth possibly sacrificing financial comfortability at home?

“I don’t think college should be free for everyone,” said Joanna Salazar, a nursing major at Cuesta College. “I think when you work hard for something you value it more, however, I do think college should be more affordable. The cost should not be so high that people feel college is not an option for them.

“Especially anything beyond community college, the prices go up substantially,” Salazar continued. “The idea of free college is a bit of an illusion as well because the money has to come from somewhere, likely that will mean taxes. So someone is paying for the education.” 

This is an important aspect to consider when asking this question. However, I would say you can still work hard without acquiring crippling debt, drowning financially before you’ve even had a chance to establish your educated career.  

America could try to follow in the footsteps of the  22 other countries that offer free college to citizens (as well as some international students), but only a few of them are not attached to military stipulations, such as Germany. Germany does offer free tuition for their citizens, but it does come at a cost, with a 14%-45% tax rate for individuals. It should be noted that the tax rate is not solely a result of free tuition, but also free health care, long term care insurance and church tax. 

Although President Joe Biden has tabled the idea of free college for now, student loan forgiveness is a step in the right direction for those of us who have struggled trying to pay back our education.