The question of college tuition is a controversial issue that often lies at the foundation of politicians’ core promises. However, colleges remain expensive and inaccessible for many people in the United States. At the same time, other countries have many opportunities for tuition-free higher education while accommodating both local and international students. My perspective on college education is that is should be made accessible to the populations which, at the time, cannot afford it and cannot deal with the financial burden of student loans. This statement implies that tuition must be free to lower unequal access and give more people an ability to seek high-quality education.
Several problems arise from the fact that college is expensive. First, most marginalized populations do not obtain access to higher education – people of color and students from low-income families often need monetary support the most. They cannot afford college even with a loan, as the cost of education also includes books, living expenses, rent, and transportation fees (Davidson et al. 129). Thus, their education choices depend on their finances, restricting their access to professions they may pursue. As a result of this inequality, people from middle- and high-income families are more represented in the workforce with a college degree. In turn, the high-paying jobs are unavailable to low-income groups, which furthers the inequality between people.
Next, even students from middle-income families suffer greatly from student debt. According to Covert, every part of the population, except for the most affluent, have to take out loans to attend college. Simultaneously, the government’s money flows to high-income families’ students through tax breaks (Covert). Therefore, young people who may need this education to support themselves and their families have to budget heavily for years after college, which further drives a wedge between income groups. This finding by COvert also implies that free college will not grant more opportunities to affluent people than low-income students.
Moreover, the examples of free tuition from other institutions support the benefits of free education for all people. As Goldrick‐Rab and Steinbaum show, the free-tuition project for high schools delivered a positive result – the enrollment among teenagers increased significantly in the first half of the twentieth century (538). Some free courses and certificate programs from community colleges also gave low-income students a chance to receive an education and enter the workforce with vital skills (Davidson et al. 119). Thus, this policy should be transferred to higher education, acknowledging the particular issues of marginalized groups.
A free college education is a possibility, as shown by several other instances in and outside the United States. Student debt and marginalized groups’ lack of access to higher education create a rift between high-income and middle- and low-income groups. The former has the necessary credentials to compete for high-paying jobs, while the latter either do not attend college at all or deal with life-long debt. In contrast, free tuition would encourage people to enroll and re-enroll, providing them with a chance to receive a degree they want. It would also result in more capable professionals, higher motivation to work, and equality in job qualifications without debt.
Covert, Bryce. “Why Public College Should Be Free.” The Nation. 2019, Web.
Davidson, Christopher T. et al. “The Higher Education Funding Revolution: An Exploration of Statewide Community College ‘Free Tuition’ Programs.” Community College Journal of Research and Practice, vol. 44, no. 2, 2018, pp. 117-132.
Goldrick‐Rab, Sara, and Marshall Steinbaum. “What Is the Problem with Student Debt?” Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, vol. 39, no. 2, 2020, pp. 534-540.