By Nate Lovely
Politicians and corporations are making efforts to lower the cost of tuition, possibly making it free because nationwide student loan debt is high and rising, and students are suggesting reformation. “I like the idea of free college tuition in the United States,” said St. Petersburg College student Grant Harrigan. “While the idea may seem like something hard to reach, I feel education is so important to the future success of a country. We aren’t helping these young minds by throwing them in debt with loans to pay for their higher education.” When asked what he thought it’d take to make tuition free in the U.S., he responded: “I feel we could achieve this goal if we were to do two things: allocate some money from our defense budget to education and legalize cannabis recreationally, tax it, and use that money towards college tuition for American students.”
Steps are being taken by U.S. presidential candidates to make college affordable for students. Three weeks ago, Hilary Clinton proposed a plan to give “$350 billion … to states that make community college tuition-free and offer a no-loan option at four-year colleges.” Senator Bernie Sanders introduced a bill to “make all 4-year public college tuition free” last May. The cost of college education is projected to be a heated topic of debate in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. “We’re America’s future,” said another SPC student who wished to remain anonymous. “If this isn’t dealt with, we’ll be too busy paying off loans to make any progress nationwide.” With student loan debt in the U.S. totaling $1 trillion, more than 4,300 American college students are attending university in Germany to receive free education.
A few corporations are also making efforts to help realize tuition-free college in the United States. Starbucks, for instance, promises an employee tuition benefit covering online classes at Arizona State University. Publix Super Markets reimburse employee tuition for workers seeking corporate level jobs with the company. “Publix does not limit participation to full-time associates,” according to their corporate website. “Any associate with six months of continuous service who works an average of 10 hours a week is eligible to participate with his or her manager’s approval.”
Economists believe the reformation needed to provide tuition-free college is too drastic. “To justify subsidizing something the benefits must outweigh the costs. The costs associated with two years being funded are quite hefty and four years would be even worse. Then there would be the backlash from those that funded their education and most likely, some additional payouts would have to be made,” said SPC economics professor Gloria Pray. “Another difficulty is the associated quality. I really can’t see some of the Ivy League colleges giving up their huge tuition payments to be ‘one of many’ essentially extended high schools.”
Recent SPC graduate, Mariaelisa Nero, shared a more optimistic view on the prospect of tuition-free college: “I think of it as a form of positive reinforcement that, if given the chance, will become a long term investment that will ultimately result in the support and fortification of the national economy.” She acknowledged maintaining this system would require nationwide cooperation in addition to many sacrifices: “It would take us as a nation acting more collectively as a society. Resources would have to be drawn, more conceivably, from the upper economic classes in order for such a system to be sustained.”
Header photo from the SPC Facebook page.