The issues of education have always been pivotal within the scope of any social and economic policy. Throughout the historical process, scholars and officials have made a plethora of claims and proposals regarding how the population should gain vital knowledge and professional skills. It might be supposed that nowadays, the argument that college education is to be free has become quite popular and has many supporters. Hence, the problem of tuition-free education seems a relevant topic to explore. In this paper, the substantial weaknesses of the mentioned approach will be discussed.
At first approximation, a free college education would result only in positive consequences and a significant impact on society. Universally tuition-free college might be defined as an educational establishment that does not require any payments from the ones enrolled – all the costs would be covered by a government. People would feel sure that they can get higher education for free and that this fact would contribute to the development of their country. They would perceive such an opportunity as an undoubtful key to a successful future for everyone. However, three Counter-Arguments that refute the latter statements were identified: financial burden, negative social effects, and devaluation of a college degree.
Universally tuition-free college for each individual of suitable age in a country would negatively influence the economic situation around institutions and government as the financial burden would occur. According to Murphy, Scott-Clayton, and Wyness (2019), a plan like the one proposed by Senator Sunders – which costs at least $75 per year – would lead to an inevitable and negative impact on the stability of the economy. Indeed, such amounts of financial support seem to hinder the educational budget of England. Then, it does not matter if an influx of students takes place suddenly – government funding would not cover free enrollment that would also decrease institutional resources (Bucarey, 2018). Thus, tuition-free colleges would result in the notable strain under which the national education would be put.
A free college education is important to economic advancement. It enables young people to be productive due to the lack of debts accrued from students’ loans. This is because they will have more money to spend on innovations and businesses, which will further stimulate the economy. The federal government is required to fund higher education institutes. According to Gleeson, (2018), the introduction of free higher education will relieve the federal government from funding institutions of higher learning. This implies that some money will be free to cover up other services, which may stimulate economic growth. Therefore, free education is a stimulus for economic expansion.
Furthermore, the described situation would make several negative social factors. High-income families would get more benefits as the flow of students to elite colleges would force out the low-income ones who rely on financial aid quotes (Harris et al., 2018). Such an assumption means that the argument that the poor would noticeably benefit from tuition-free programs is insufficient. It should be noticed that so far, none of such programs has contributed to the improvement of performance measures or attendance, as well as guarantees for equality to access (Murphy et al., 2019; Bucarey, 2018). It might be supposed that society would get many hardships with tuition-free colleges.
Free education will benefit the poor population greatly. The financial aids offered to students is currently not very efficient. In most cases, the resources offered to college and graduate students are insufficient to effectively cover both tuition fees and required materials. Subsequently, poor students are dropping out of college due to a lack of school fees. The inability to complete a college education has rendered many youths jobless. According to Gándara and Rutherford, (2018), free education will reduce the rate of unemployment by about 2 million. This will, in turn, reduce the crime rates and improve the economy. Thus, it is evident that free college education has a positive impact on society.
Finally, education would suffer from the devaluation of a college degree. Bucarey (2018) states that history shows that universally free higher education results in a decreased quality of education. Per-student funding is a strict measure of institutional quality, as well as student satisfaction, and is more upper with paid tuition and drops notably with universally free college (Bucarey, 2018). Here, it seems reasonable to emphasize that plenty of countries offer free education, but they adhere to strict rules and principles in this regard. Harris et al. (2018) claim that such countries have rigorous tracking methods for students’ performance and quotas. The devaluation threatens the presence of the understanding among a society that higher education is a necessity that serves as a foundation for an excellent career.
Free education in colleges improves the quality of the education gained by the students. College fee is very expensive for students from poor background. Although students’ loans are given to financially challenged individuals, the amount is not sufficient to support them. For instance, in the United States, the Pell grant only covers 30% of the tuition fees (Carruther & Welch, 2019). For this reason, students have been forced to look for jobs to fully cover their expenses. The juggle between work and education lowers the quality of education because students rarely concentrate fully on classwork. It is important to note that free college education leads to the attainment of good grades for all students regardless of socioeconomic status. Therefore, universal access to college education does not devalue education.
It seems reasonable to conclude that the tuition-free educational system has some essential disadvantages. First, it puts a harsh financial burden on the government and institutions. Second, negative social effects take place, such as the fact that high-income families are in better conditions with tuition-free colleges than low-income ones. Third, in a common vision, a college degree would have no sense and be devalued. It might be assumed that the discussed topic requires attention and in-depth research. On the other hand, free college education has some advantages, which include the attainment of quality education regardless of socio-economic status, reduction of crime rates, and improvement of the economy. Education is a fundamental right for both the rich and the poor in the community. Free education is also beneficial to the nation economically. This is because it leads to the growth of human capital, which increases productivity and the market. Thus, the introduction of free and universal higher education should not be trivialized.
Bucarey, A. (2018). Who pays for free college? Crowding out on campus. Web.
Carruthers, C. K., & Welch, J. G. (2019). Not whether, but where? Pell grants and college choices. Journal of Public Economics, 172, 1-19.
Gándara, D., & Rutherford, A. (2018). Mitigating unintended impacts? The effects of premiums for underserved populations in performance-funding policies for higher education. Research in Higher Education, 59(6), 681-703.
Gleeson, M. (2016). Student loan debt and the effects on the broader economy. Web.
Harris, D. N., Farmer-Hinton, R., Kim, D., Diamond, J., & Carl, B. (2018). The promise of free college (and its potential pitfalls). Web.
Murphy, R., Scott-Clayton, J., & Wyness, G. (2019). The end of free college in England: Implications for enrolments, equity, and quality. Economics of Education Review, 71, 7-22. Web.