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The Pipeline

The cost of free tuition

Naomi Hoch, Online Editor-in-Chief

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If elected as president, Senator Bernie Sanders promises to introduce the “College For All Act,” which would make all four-year public colleges and universities tuition-free. Many high school students plan to vote for Sanders in the upcoming presidential election simply because they do not want to pay for college, but fail to realize that there is little chance they will receive this benefit within the next few years. In the unlikely event that this act passes, this generation will be literally and figuratively presented with a bill charging for the future generation’s college expenses.

           Sanders stated, “In a global economy, when our young people are competing with workers from around the world, we have got to have the best educated workforce possible. And, that means that we have got to make college affordable.” However, this act is hardly affordable, costing the government an estimated additional $70 billion dollars per year. Sanders argues that his “Robin Hood Tax,” which would put a five percent tax on essentially all Wall Street transactions, will generate enough revenue to completely cover the cost of his college act. However, this ignores the fact that over 50% of Americans trade on Wall Street, so this act would have negative economic consequences. Furthermore, many students from low-income households already receive heavily subsidized college tuition through financial aid or community college. Therefore, this heavy tax would support students who can afford college expenses and increase inflation by driving up prices for other college services such as room, board, and textbooks. In fact, the Pell Institute found that $56 billion dollars out of the total $70 billion dollars would aid families earning an above-average income. Free college tuition would put an unnecessary strain on American taxpayers and lead to a nationwide economic crisis.   

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          Even if the federal government could afford this costly bill, many additional problems exist. University of Alabama’s policy analyst, Ben Wildavsky, explains that “government funds become spread too thin. That reduces quality and often limits capacity. As a result, well-off students, who tend to be better prepared academically, are more likely to get scarce spaces.” By making college easily attainable and tuition-free, it will be increasingly difficult to get into college and those who do get accepted will not feel pressured to graduate in a timely and productive manner. Additionally, schools will not be able to utilize profits made by tuition to improve facilities and fund research. According to the National Association of College and University Business Officers and the Delta Cost Project, on average tuition at a public university goes towards half of the school’s research budget. School budgets will depend on the federal government and lose a large source of profit as a result of this detrimental act.

           Although student debt is a problem throughout the United States and increased college education will help promote the nation’s success, the “College For All Act” is not the solution to these issues. Not only would this act create even more selective acceptance rates, make private education more costly, and reduce university research, but it also will be largely unsuccessful in aiding students from low-income families while unfairly taxing the majority of the American population, including this generation of voters.

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The student news site of Pikesville High School
The cost of free tuition