The idea that the government should subsidize college education to make it more accessible and affordable to United States (US) citizens and residents are faced with much controversy. College education, mostly tuition fees, is so high, making college education very expensive in the US. College education made free would have both advantages and disadvantages. Many scholars believe that removing or minimizing college education costs would imply a greater enrolment and retention of students in schools, thus, a more educated society. In addition, it helps reduce poverty since families will get a chance to focus on other development activities rather than spend all their resources on college fees; the same applies to the students since they will graduate without student loans to service. As a result, the students get more time to focus on their studies; hence they are more settled and not on job hunts. Moreover, more graduates fill the job market, thus, reducing the unemployment rate.
Conversely, free college education translates to increased taxation to cater to government fees. It also has other disadvantages, such as the devaluation of college studies, since most students will get to attend college; hence, the education could lose its meaning. The many college graduands will also overpopulate the workforce, leading to a crisis the government will have to intervene and solve. Furthermore, subsidies are unnecessary since the US education system offers numerous opportunities. Subsidizing college education is good since it promotes fairness, affordability, and accessibility; however, the government should not pay college fees since it has disadvantages such as increased taxing and a devalued education system.
Arguments for The Government Paying College Fees
Proponents of government subsidies for college education theorize that zero education costs have more advantages than any possible disadvantages. The US government should offset college fees to make education more accessible and tenable to its citizens and residents. The need for welfare is a need in American society, just like any other society. Taxpayers in the US would carry the task of servicing welfare in the first stages, but as time goes, the government has to step in and subsidize tuition fees to reduce the necessity of welfare kitties (Key, 2020). That also helps minimize the poverty levels related to class, caste, or family; in most cases, children born in graduates’ families pursue college studies.
With the absence of tuition fees, more students will graduate from college, taking care of students from low-income families. Most students who drop out of college are forced to leave school because of the inability to pay for tuition fully (Miller & Smith, 2017; Shao et al., 2019). Through government paying it, eliminating tuition fees would ensure most students graduate because of financial inadequacy eradicated. College graduation rates would equally rise because fewer college students would have to drop out of school due to financial constraints or part-time jobs that finance their upkeep.
Government financial intervention will reduce stress on students that result from loan debts. The college graduates’ money for personal or economic development is typically channeled to servicing loans they took to service their upkeep and college fees (Mathews et al., 2021). On average, many students in the US colleges graduate with about 37 thousand US dollars in debt; those who are privileged graduate with approximately ten thousand US dollars to pay for their student debts. In contrast, if their loans were from only books or upkeep expenses, it would have been easier and faster for them to pay since the loans would be manageable. The graduates could contribute positively to the American economy since they could live more luxuriously while working; they could buy houses and not rent flats and spend more on quality travel, food, health, and cars. The US government will have an increased Gross Domestic Product (GDP) because of more tax revenue. There is a reduced pressure on students; students will be able to concentrate on their studies since there is a reduced need for part-time jobs. As a result, the US will record more innovation and faster technological progress.
If the government paid college educational expenses for US citizens and residents, it would positively impact their educational choices. For instance, the students get a chance to select a major of their choice, passion, and career. Parents direct their children to pick more practical majors that guarantee them jobs with good pays after graduation. At times, students feel they would be unable to pay their loans on time; therefore, they decide to select their majors based on post-graduate returns, not necessarily their potential careers (Chavez Reyes, 2018). Essentially, a student’s career satisfaction and general happiness would only result from their interest and stickability to passionate majors. Assuming the government paid college fees for students, they, along with their parents, would find it best and easier to consider majors that interest them or would build them, rather than those that reward more.
The result of many people attending college when the government pays college fees for its citizens is the growth of American society as a whole. According to Hendren and Sprung-Keyser (2020), the subsidies would enable students to attend college with much ease; thus, the number of students enrolled in college would significantly increase. The society would then experience an increased innovation since it will be having an adequately educated and empowered workforce, with a population having vital critical thinking skills. Essentially, that would result in a better preparation for the future, not only for graduates but also for their parents whom they will support, and the US collectively.
Despite its many advantages, a zero-cost college education is also disadvantageous in several aspects. For instance, the government’s money to subsidize the tuition fees requires compensation (Miller & Smith, 2017). The government will be forced to use the money collected from taxes to cater to colleges. The American government will either have to redirect funds for use by other state agencies to the education sector or increase taxes to fix the increased demand for money; the government will possibly opt to increase taxation. Some sections of American society will be directly affected; for example, the upper-middle-class will rise relatively. Furthermore, college education should not be funded by the government since it is a personal investment for the student. The students ought to finance their studies without burdening American society.
More students would also join college if the government paid the fees. A direct effect of that is the overpopulated workforce; many graduates will exist in the job market with a lower absorption rate out of limited employment opportunities or job offers (Young III et al., 2018). It will equally cause an increase in the number of college degree holders who work jobs they are more than qualified. The government will also have to increase taxes and other related levies to pay schools their dues; the US authorities will raise taxes for education-related tasks to compensate for the influx of fees. Enabling all students to attend college would devalue the college degree instead of improving the labor market.
The other demerit of the government offsetting college fees is that many student beneficiaries of the fee subsidies will be inadequate in financial management. They will find it quite hard to handle their finances since the government will have sorted most of their monetary problems. In college, a typical student will learn to save money by using efficient budgeting, an experience most beneficiaries of government support might lack (Shao et al., 2019). College student loans usually train graduates on efficient money expenditures, especially when they pay them on time, showing that they have learned good budget habits. The skills people use to afford good houses, cars, or any form of luxury are acquired through such experience. At the same time, children from high-income families do not need government subsidization for their studies; they can afford it comfortably.
Proponents of government subsidies for school fees argue that it improves students’ educational choices. On the contrary, government financial support would cause stagnation in college learners’ academic progress. For instance, there is high educational inflation since the government will have made education accessible to all (Hendren & Sprung-Keyser, 2020). The effect is that the colleges cannot efficiently cater to all those students. In addition, students may not necessarily focus on one significant as suggested. They, instead, spend most of their time having fun since they do not see the value of their money used; after all, the government has paid all their tuition expenses. As a result, the colleges graduate their students when they are not adequately and holistically prepared for the job market. Due to a high intake, laxity among students, and the decreased college degree value, the students may study quite long, taking more years in college.
College education will eventually lose its essence, meaning, and value when the US government opts to pay for its citizens their college fees. College study will be seen as less essential because many students will enroll for study, and at the same time, not take their academic work seriously; therefore, devaluing the college degrees. According to Key (2020), fewer students would finish school; hard work and commitment among college students will reduce. Students will put in less effort since they have not paid for their studies; they do not need to work hard in school. Students may not value education anymore; they may have a decreased motivation to study hard. In addition, when college fees are as high as they are, the students focus more on intelligent work in their schooling to complete education faster and pay less in terms of student debt. In contrast, government payment of college fees would only increase students’ laziness since they will not hurry to finish school. Generally, an effort by the US government to offset college fees for its citizens would reduce the quality of college education.
There is no direct or immediate connection between college education subsidies and economic development or between college degrees and employment opportunities. The cost of college equally matters in the determination of earning power. According to Cheng and Lindley, students who schooled in expensive colleges that offered enhanced academic programs tend to make more than those who went to lower-fee colleges. Although the subsidies may promote fairness, especially regarding income and opportunities, they certainly lead to a relatively inequitable society where some parts of society suffer as others enjoy the benefits. Therefore, an increase in government subsidies on educational opportunities is a wastage of resources.
Schooling in US colleges is usually expensive, leading to some students either dropping out or working part-time because of financial constraints. Some scholars suggest that the government intervene by paying the fees to solve that problem. Reasons for that include enhancing affordability and accessibility to college education, the promotion of a fair society, and reduced pressure on the students to enable them to achieve their highest potential. It would also increase the enrollment and retention of students in college. It is indeed a wonderful thing for the government to pay college fees for its citizens. However, that would be detrimental to the US since taxes would have to be increased to provide funds to schools. It would also introduce bias and unfairness to some parts of the economy, such as the taxpayer and private schools whose enrollment levels would reduce. In addition, a college education would lose its value since students will not take their studies seriously. The governments should not subsidize college education since it has more harm than benefits; instead of developing the US educational sector, it retrogresses it all together.
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