Dear Next President
There has been more than this country’s fair share of controversy during this year’s election trail. You hear everything from abortion policies, gun control, all the way to how to deal with the threat overseas. I can imagine among these topics you’ve probably heard a lot of discussion over offering free college tuition. Each side of the argument has their strengths and concessions, but before deciding what your standpoint is, I have some information you may like to hear.
There are a lot of statistics out there about how many people are in debt because of their post-secondary education. However, College Atlas tells us that only 33% of college students drop out of college before graduating. At that, according to the Washington Post, over 66% of students who dropped out did so for reasons other than not being able to afford it. This results in a relatively small amount of college dropouts that are actually related to the cost of education. Maybe the problem isn’t as widespread as we may believe.
Say that free tuition were to be offered. How would this affect the value of the college degree? It is common knowledge that the more of something there is, the less that each individual thing is worth. Thus, if the number of people with college degrees went up, their value would decrease. Not only would their values decrease, but the cost of obtaining one would rise as well. As stated by Kevin Carey of the New York Times, “Any public university president with an ounce of sense would simply raise annual tuition by $5,000 or $10,000 or more, secure in the knowledge that Uncle Sam would foot the bill”. With this information, we shouldn’t haste in offering college tuition at the expense of the government.
Extending on the cost of a college education rising, is the fact of paying for it. Obviously, the government doesn’t have an endless reservoir of cash to pay for an unending amount of college students to attending any university they choose. The truth is, the money would be coming out of the taxpayer’s pockets. Finland and Sweden are known globally for their free education and thriving school systems. What’s the trick? Nothing is actually free. The personal income tax in Sweden is 57%, and 51.5% in Finland, according to TradingEconomics.com This means that citizens receive less than half of what they make each year, while the government takes the rest. What is the largest drainer of these taxpayer dollars? Free post-secondary education. In Scandinavia you’ll find many unhappy with the high tax rate, while in the U.S. you’ll find people complaining about costly education. It may be possible that there is no happy medium between these two.
Though free college could possibly benefit society, there may be a cost that outweighs this luxury. Before deciding which side to tale, just remember the hard workers who put themselves in college, even when the odds are stacked against them. America is the land of opportunity, but opportunity does not mean freebies. America is the land where you can work as hard as you like, and your outcome will be the direct result of it. Allow America to stay a place for hard workers, and the people will continue to work hard.
A hard-working High School Senior