Counterpoint – There is no such thing as free college


Expect education costs to rise exponentially if this proposal goes through.

Ryan Heppel, Staff Writer

In today’s workforce it is becoming harder to be guaranteed a job. As such, past positions of higher education being enterprising, but not exactly necessary, are becoming obsolete. Today, higher levels of learning are becoming practically a prerequisite in America’s job market. At first approaching the issue, it would appear that right minded individuals would continue their education after high school, or else guarantee themselves to the unemployment line. Of course this is an issue for many students in less than affluent families. Seeing as how tuition rates and fees have risen to staggering numbers over the years, many must apply for some form of financial aid.

There are many programs, such as the Federal Pell Grant, that help lessen the burden of payments and fees. President Obama in his State of the Union speech, proposed a plan to make the first two years of community college free to any citizen looking to earn a degree and become competitive in the job market. However this ignores a few key points of the world of education, and the job market in general.

The cost of school is not completely beholden to tuition. Much of the cost of school has to do with the upkeep and building of facilities, teacher’s salaries and the extra services offered by schools. According to the Washington Post covering this cost will come at great expense to the tax payer, to the tune of 60 billion dollars over the next ten years. This will be be putting community colleges in the same line of problems as current public schools in the United States with overcrowding and lowering of quality in teachers and faculty. This will also undermine current federal programs, such as the aforementioned Pell grant which already covers the tuition costs of instate residents for community colleges.

I If President Obama is planning on replacing these programs with “America’s College Promise,” another factor to consider is that making community college free will create much higher student enrollment at community colleges. Offering a free program entices more students to take that education path. This will in turn cause tuition at state or private four year colleges far more expensive in the long run.

Increases in attendance in community colleges will make the associate degree all but irrelevant, thus a four year degree will become the norm. Anyone looking to transition from their two year free ride will be hit with rises in tuition and fees at these four year institutions.

Many of the jobs available now required some form of technical know-how or trade skill. Encouraging students to continue on to community colleges will only leave the market full of associate degree holders with no actual practical trade to market. In the end, Obama’s proposal while good intentioned would hurt the average student more than hurt them and hurt the American job market in the long run.