Mary W. Tennessee

Tuition-Free College

College should be made affordable and debt-free, not completely tuition-free.


Dear Future President,

You already know the value of education, and I do not have to tell you how important college is in preparing students for their career. However, what often happens to these students is that they graduate deep in debt and spend thousands of dollars to get out of it. This is obviously a problem. One proposed solution is to eliminate tuition costs of public colleges altogether for families below a certain income. However, I believe that college should be made affordable and debt-free, not completely tuition-free.

Those who proposed tuition-free college rightfully argue that the plan will help millions of students save money. They also suggest that some student debt is caused by circumstances outside of college. For example, a student who has saved enough to pay for college but gets into a car accident must first pay for the damages instead of his education. This makes sense and is a very real possibility. A less extreme plan than free public college is a tuition-free community college education. Eligible students would have to maintain a certain grade point average and family income, and they could finish their degree for half-price at a four year college. This is an excellent option which is already available through a program in my state, and is a great alternative to simply getting rid of tuition.

Student debt cannot be solved just by forcing colleges to go tuition-free. Regardless of tuition, there are still opportunities for students to get into debt. Not all colleges’ tuition costs include food, housing, or books, and the prices of these keep climbing. Also, some states are more tuition dependent than others when it comes to funding higher education, so eliminating tuition could hurt the education students would be receiving. Or, if the government pays for the tuition, the colleges can choose to raise the costs. Although this would, as promised, save students millions, it would cost the government that same amount if not more. This would then plunge the country into even more debt, and it still would not totally eliminate the student debt outside of tuition.

I personally feel that if college education were to be made completely free, the education itself would not be worth as much. Ignoring the actual quality of the degree, if absolutely anyone can get your same major at no cost, this makes the major itself worth less than before, just like if we could manufacture gold. Also, if higher education were made completely free, students might not take it as seriously. If it does not cost them a dime to get the education, it will not cost them to waste it and slack off either.

The main flaw of tuition-free college is that tuition-free is not the same as debt-free. If the student can get enough scholarships to attend college for free, more power to them. However, forcing the colleges to go tuition-free devalues college education and does not eliminate debt. The focus should not be on ridding colleges of tuition, but instead on making them more affordable to prevent as much debt as possible. Whether it be through scholarships, work-study opportunities, grants, or, if necessary, only lowering tuition, there is a better way to make college more available to people.

Thank you for taking the time to read this.


Mary W.

Works Cited

"Clinton's Free Tuition Promise: What Would It Cost? How Would It Work?" All Things Considered 28 July 2016. Student Resources in Context. Web. 3 Nov. 2016.

Gaudiano, Nicole, and Heidi M. Przybla. "Clinton, Sanders promote free college tuition in swing state visit." USA Today 29 Sept. 2016: 02A. Student Resources in Context. Web. 3 Nov. 2016.

"In Philadelphia, Biden touts tuition-free community college." Philadelphia Inquirer [Philadelphia, PA] 25 Apr. 2016. Student Resources in Context. Web. 3 Nov. 2016.

Palmer, Iris. "The false promise of 'free college'." Washington Monthly Sept.-Oct. 2016: 77+. Student Resources in Context. Web. 3 Nov. 2016.

Quinton, Sophie. "Why You Might Be Paying Student Loans Until You Retire." Student Loans. Ed. Noël Merino. Farmington Hills, MI: Greenhaven Press, 2016. At Issue. Rpt. from "Why You Might Be Paying Student Loans Until You Retire (and Beyond)." National Journal (18 Sept. 2014). Opposing Viewpoints in Context. Web. 3 Nov. 2016.

Farragut High School

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