Should College be Free?


Ashlee Thompson, Staff Writer

Should college be free for students? This question has been debated for some time and evokes passionate responses. I believe that college tuition is overpriced, and should be reduced so students feel like they have a chance to attend  the school of their choosing. On the other hand, I believe that free college would result in more negatives than positives. 

If colleges were completely free, many great things would happen because of it. One positive result would be an increase in the number of people attending college. Further, many students who are at the top of their class in high school, but come from low-income families, tend to go to smaller, less expensive colleges, which could potentially prevent them from being doctors, lawyers, or entering other high-earning careers. Free college would place these students in larger colleges with greater opportunities. Another pro to college being completely free is it would better the economy. The average college student is saddled with approximately $38,000 in student loan debt by the time they graduate. If college were free, graduates would have an easier time finding adequate housing and be in a better position to contribute more to the economy. 

Although there are many strong arguments on the pro side of free tuition, there are just as many negatives. One con would be an increased waiting list. More people would apply for college if it were free, and that means more people on waiting lists and more time awaiting admission decisions. Another would be that the quality of the colleges could potentially decrease. If the money the government was getting from the taxpayers were spread too thin between all of the schools, many programs that colleges offer could be taken away, and students would lose important educational opportunities and experiences. College would also most likely be taken for granted. If everyone went to college, people might slack off and not work as hard because they are not paying for their education. Students could drop out and not face as many personal consequences since their tuition cost them nothing. Degrees might also be devalued if everyone had them. 

 Since people place more value on what is difficult to achieve, free tuition would undercut the exclusivity of college and undermine valuable lessons about responsibility that surround debt repayment. That said, however, colleges are way overpriced. The heavy student loan burden that college students graduate with lasts for decades, and I believe that it should be reduced. When higher education  is overpriced, it causes students not to reach their full potential, which in turn leads to under- or unemployment because employers expect their workers to have earned certain degrees. Therefore, in my opinion it is better to reduce college costs rather than to eliminate them.