College should be free for all

Olivia Walz '22, Graphics editor

Education is a crucial part of life. Therefore, everyone should be able to have access to it. However, with college tuition and fees increasing by nine percent annually, it has become increasingly difficult to afford the high costs of receiving a higher education. As a result, those who are unable to afford the full four-year tuition are either in a mountain of debt or are opting out of college altogether.

Research has shown that when college is free, enrollment and graduation rates increase and people are more likely to obtain a higher income. Free college offers first-generation and low-income students the security of knowing that college and a brighter future is attainable. A more educated society is beneficial to both the person attending and economic growth. Disposable income is an indicator of not only how families are doing financially, but also how much money they are able to put back into the economy through buying goods and services. When individuals acquire a higher income, the government gains more revenue because people pay in taxes, and thus, the government has more money to give back to the populace.

Another issue that must be addressed is the $1.7 trillion student debt crisis. Nobody wants to spend 20 plus years paying off student loans. Since the average federal student loan debt is $36,510 and the average private student loan debt is $54,921, it is almost inevitable. Those who have student debt will feel the effects long after they graduate and are also less likely to achieve their life goals. For example, they may not be able to start a family, buy a home or pursue further education. It is also more probable that they will have poor credit scores, which can increase the interest rate on their loans, mortgages and credit cards. This makes it even more difficult to attain personal aspirations.

According to a New York Federal Reserve study, the benefits of a free tuition program outweigh the costs. Although it’s likely that a free government college program would be funded through taxes, it’s important to recognize that the more educated an individual is, the higher their income and the more likely it will be for the government to have a substantial return on their investment from the higher taxes deducted from their higher earnings. Although it would still be possible for students to go into debt due to the costs of room and board, books and other miscellaneous fees, it would be far less likely because the cost of tuition is approximately half of the total cost of higher education. Free tuition would help alleviate the gap between the wealthy and the poor.