Free College For All Will Power Our 21St-Century Economy And Empower Our Democracy

from Brookings

Education beyond high school is essential for Americans to prosper in the 21st century. Looking into the past, we have seen the majority of those earning a college degree or other postsecondary credential achieve higher earnings, quality of life, civic engagement, and other positive outcomes. Looking ahead, we see a new future where the vast majority of jobs will require some level of postsecondary education. From either perspective, it’s clear that “college for all” should become our national aspiration. The question is how best to achieve that goal.

Many of the success stories that produced these good outcomes for individuals and our country are the result of Americans who got their postsecondary education and training for free in the 1940s, 50s, 60s and 70s. The Rice Institute, now Rice University in Texas, was free to its students until the 1960s. SUNY and CUNY in New York State were virtually free until the 1980s. The same was true for the University of California, the California State Universities, and the California Community Colleges. Many states made sure that the returning World War II veterans and the next two generations had access to a free postsecondary education.

And it shouldn’t be a surprise that our nation’s economy boomed, along with America’s civic health. In fact, when President Franklin Roosevelt signed the GI Bill in 1944 and President Eisenhower signed the National Defense Student Loan legislation in 1958, millions of veterans, women, and minorities came to college because they could afford it and knew their education beyond high school would make a significant difference in their future livelihood. They bought cars, took out home loans, worked hard, and advanced in their careers. They weren’t burdened by enormous college debt. At the same time, trust in one another and key institutions, as well as civic habits of volunteering, voting and charitable giving, were also on the rise among this Greatest Generation. During this era, the U.S. was first in the world for its college graduates, outpacing Germany, the U.K., and other OECD countries.

More here.

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23 Comments

  1. Education beyond high school during the 21st century is essential for a student to receive a well payed job and be financially stable. Businesses, schools, and other jobs do not have a reason to ask for a high school degree anymore as these companies look for what has this individual accomplished throughout his/her college career and some, or most in today’s world attend and complete grad-school. As the author Brookings states, “college for all” should be the goal for young students searching for something to look forward to in their young career. Many of these people who have succeeded greatly post college and have produced many success stories. This is a result of many of these individuals receiving a free college tuition throughout their college experience.
    As the article states, During the 40s, 50s, 60s, and 70s, many educators and states made sure that the post-World War 2 vets and the up and coming generations to follow had access to free education. Today, tuition is raised annually, and some individuals must decide on a college that is most affordable to them, instead of the college that best fits his or her. Many students today stress excessively over college, and some either cannot afford it, or attend a community college and never experience an actual college experience. If these individuals had the ability to get a college degree, receive a job, and start spending money, the economy will begin to thrive. However, this affordability is the difficulty for these individuals and is a barrier towards their future success.
    Brookings states that during the years of 1940 to 1970, the economy was prospering because people were buying vehicles, taking out loans, and “advancing their careers. These individuals were not worrying about the amount of debt they were in because nobody during this period was in any drastic debt. Taking out loans that can take up to past 5 years puts a ton of added stress onto someone’s life as they will be thinking about the debt they are in until it is all gone. Not only is this true, but the author tells the reader that the US was first in the world for its college graduates beating out the U.K. and Germany. Now, it seems that an individual’s post college career is decided on how much debt a person is in. Now the U.S. is 10th in the world in post-secondary attainment and is struggling to improve annually.
    The good news is that there are solutions for fixing these incredible college costs that local communities and state leaders have been creating. Many of these leaders have established more than 200 tuition free college promise programs for individuals struggling to pay the high expenses as a normal college would. This idea has been established in 23 states and many people are working towards creating more of these colleges. Free college will help not only the U.S. economy, but empower the country’s democracy.

  2. After reading this article, all I could think to myself was, “Man I wish that I was born in the 60s or 70s” because I am almost already up to my waist in college debt and I have not even completed my second year. The idea of free college education is the dream of most students across the country, as well as the world. It was attainable in the 20th century, but my guess is that institutions realized they could make infinitely more money if they robbed these students blind instead. I understand that free college education, or an after high school equivalent, is a tall order in today’s society. With the debt for student loans alone being at approximately $1.6 trillion USD, it seems like there is no turning back. The heights that this country would reach with free secondary education are unmeasurable. As described in the article, after the influx of returning soldiers to Universities in the period from 1945-1980 the economy was unlike what anyone had seen before. With no debt, these men were buying homes, cars, and other consumer goods with virtually no limit. The economy was booming thanks to free education. If we fast-forward to present day, we still see these high levels of consumer spending even with such high levels of debt. If we were to implement a no tuition policy for even just one standard, four-year graduating class, the spike in spending on other goods would sky rocket.
    In my opinion, I believe that free higher education is a very large step in the right direction for this country, but is still a very difficult challenge. It is unlikely to say that Universities as well as Student Loan organizations such as Sally Mae, to name just one, would agree to this. A plan would have to be implemented to insure that all parties would comply. Even a compromise of discounted college tuition to fair prices would have a massive impact on the volume of students, as well as their success. College students have enough things to worry about such as, finding a career they are passionate about, but will also make them money, succeeding in classes, and most importantly , becoming an adult. If you tack on a sum of debt that is nearly impossible to pay off, it makes it almost impossible for students to succeed. I myself suffer from this problem. I work a part time job to help cover my own expenses, as well as help my parents pay for school. If I did not have to work at this job, or even just work less, my time could be better focused on my future.

  3. I would love if I could be going to college for free right now, considering the amount of money that I pay. I had no idea that “Americans got their postsecondary education and training for free in the 1940s, 50s, 60s, and 70s”. When this happened, the economy was booming and a lot better then what it is now. It really is a pipedream to have college be free for all four years, so that is why I loved how the article said, “imagine making the first two years of college free for every American willing to put in the effort, work hard, and help grow the economy through their skills and talents”. Having the opportunity to have two years of college for free would be extremely beneficial for a lot of people and could really change the economy as a whole for the good. In my opinion the first two years of college if filled with a bunch of classes that students need to take in order to graduate, and not necessarily towards one major. For example, I am an accounting major and for one of my classes I have to take chemistry, which has very little to do with my major and helping me in the future. Getting rid of those type of classes is a separate topic and something that I do not want to get into.
    A lot of people are currently not able to afford college so a lot of potential and past education goes to waste. College is extremely expensive so a lot of people have to stop their education after high school, so their jobs will never be as good as they could potentially be. Imagine a world where everybody that put in the work was able to get some kind of education beyond high school. The job market would expand and the economy would become a lot stronger then what it currently is. I personally feel like there is always some kind of story about how some kid was not able to make it through the education system simply because they did not have money. In my opinion, if I knew that after high school I would not be going to college and that high school education was going to be it for me then I feel that I would not work as hard as I could. I would put in just enough work to pass high school and then put all my focus into getting a job that can last me a long time. Growing up knowing that I always had an opportunity to go to college made me work even harder throughout high school because I wanted to make sure that I got into a good college. I think that this could potentially have the same effect on other people if they knew that they had a chance at college. I hope that everything eventually is figured out and college does not remain as expensive as it currently is.

  4. With the increasing costs of everyday life within the United States, families are seeing the growing importance of their children obtaining some type of postsecondary education. Whether it is attending a traditional four-year university to obtain a bachelor’s degree or attending a trade school to receive a certificate of completion in a trade, students must have marketable skills that will make them attractive in the economy. However, it is not so simple to attend a post-secondary institution after high school. The cost of attending college has skyrocketed, making it difficult for the average family to send their children off to college without incurring a significant amount of student loan debt. This debt follows graduates around for the rest of their lives due to the interest rates attached to these loans. It could take up to 10+ years to pay off the average amount of student-loan debt. This is a heavy burden that must not be shared by one individual but by society as a whole. Bernie Sanders gained fame in the 2016 presidential race, by offering free public tuition for households that make up to $125,000 in income. Sanders proposed to pay for this by introducing a speculation tax on tradeable securities on U.S. stock exchanges. This tax would pay for up to 67% of public universities tuition expenses and make community colleges free. The remaining 33% of funding would have to come from participating states.
    The importance of an educated workforce from all socio-economic backgrounds in a country is vital for the country’s long term growth. Without it, the country can find itself lagging behind other countries when it comes to standards of living, innovation within the marketplace, and overall happiness. Whether the next generation of students goes after the traditional four-year degree or a certificate from a trade-school, students must acquire marketable skills within the education system of America for free. Throughout the U.S. from the 1940-1970’s, it’s evident that investments in the middle class through education have paid off handsomely within the long run with higher wage payouts due to a skilled labor force and more people being involved in volunteer work and community engagement. Due to higher wages, the middle class was able to purchase automobiles, homes, and further invest in their communities. If the U.S. adopts a funding program able to pay for free tuition for postsecondary students, it will cause a greater amount of social cohesion and prosperity within the U.S.

  5. Re: Free College for All Will Power Our 21st-Century Economy and Empower Our Democracy

    The concept of tuition-free college in order to bring back the educational advantage of adults in the United States sounds like a wonderful idea. There are so many barriers to achieving a college degree, and there are so many disadvantaged adults who might benefit from such a program. This is how it appears on the surface. I would just as much like for everyone to have the same opportunities as I have. The truth is, I have been financially disadvantaged for most of my adult years – now more so than ever. I am also a returning student, much past the average age of a young student working towards his or her undergraduate degree. Despite these circumstances, I am not the recipient of a free college education in the context contained within this article. There are resources for disadvantaged individuals who would like to receive a post-secondary education. First of all, every aspiring student should fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). It is easy to be eligible for Pell Grants. Additionally, individual states, the colleges themselves, and other organizations offer grants and scholarships based on a number of different factors. Some of these are merit-based, which is a good source of motivation for a serious student. While in most cases there will still be additional costs of attendance above and beyond the aforementioned funding, loans are offered to fill in those gaps, some of which are interest-deferred. This still might mean that the student does not get everything he or she wants such as on-campus housing, but “free” college does not often offer this either.

    Another consideration is whether a recipient of free college will take his or her education as seriously as one who will have some expenses associated with it. There seems to be a lot of conflicting information online regarding this, and currently it is too early to tell how successful the Tennessee Reconnect program will be. New Jersey is next in line to test out such a program. The State has budgeted $20 million for a pilot program that will provide no-cost tuition to every student enrolled in at least six credits at a selected community college and whose Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) is less than or equal to $45,000 beginning the Spring 2019 Semester. This will be a trial at a handful of the nineteen community colleges in New Jersey because the amount budgeted will not be enough to cover all of them (NJ will offer free tuition at some community colleges).

    The lack of an all-inclusive program due to the budgetary constraints in New Jersey raises the important question of how the free college for everyone will be paid for. The State of New Jersey is currently on track for a $2.4 billion budget deficit in 2019 per the State Treasurer Delivers Revised Revenue Estimates to Assembly Budget Committee. Will the State be able to sustain its partial coverage of free college for long? Also, is this fair to the unspecified number of students at the colleges that are not included in this pilot program? Will provisions ever be made for these students? On a national level, funding for “free” tuition would be even more catastrophic, considering that the United States is currently about $21 trillion in debt (U.S. Debt Clock).

    Some argue that free tuition at public schools could potentially create a greater competitive advantage for the wealthy because they would be able to afford the finest private schools that would attract the most renowned of professors, creating further disadvantage for the already disadvantaged. It could also be argued that further budgetary constraints (and thus restraints) would be inevitable at all public schools, which could affect the quality of the students’ education. England’s free college program is a good example of this situation. It began offering free tuition to full time students in the 1960s and ended up charging tuition again in the late 1990s. When the funding for the free tuition program became low, less seats were available and as it turned out that the wealthiest students were more likely to fill those seats. One study showed that between 1997 and 2015, after tuition fees were once again introduced, the number of low-income students enrolled in higher education actually doubled (What Happened When England Offered “Free” College?).

    As a final thought, I do not believe that offering veterans, their children, and their grandchildren school at no cost is the same as providing something for “free”. I am completely supportive of the idea of doing so today and not just for World War II veterans and their families.

    Melissa Joas
    BUS-300-OLR

  6. For most people now a day’s education past high school has been very important. At the same time it has been very difficult for many people. Education past high school can be very expensive and not everybody can afford it. For many students college is a must to go to if they want to succeed in their future life. Post college life is a nightmare for some as they have hefty loans to pay off. It is hard after college to live the dream life because half of your money is going towards college loans and debt. Back in the day when college was free people saw it the best. Everyone was able to get the education they wanted without having to worry about money or debt. Post college life was really good for them because they didn’t have to pay off their student loans. Students back in the 40`s were able to buy cars and houses soon after they graduated college assuming they had good jobs. In the world that we are living in right now, it is kind of really important to get a college degree. Without a college degree, it is hard to find a well-paying job. So that forces many students to take out loans so they are able to go to college.
    As it was stated in the article, when college was free back in a day the economy was doing really well. Instead of worrying about paying off loans students were basically able to afford many things they wanted. I wish I was going to school in the 40`s. I hate the facts that I am paying all this money just to get an education. Our parents have been working hard all their life just so they can send us to college and make sure we are living a good life. All parents want all their kids to go to college as it is so important now a days to attain a college degree. Now a days even financial aid doesn’t really help many people out. Overall I loved reading this article because it really showed me how life was easier back in the days for all the kids who wanted to go to college. It really made me wish that we still had free education offered to us.

  7. Obtaining a postsecondary education in the United States is undoubtedly imperative for success in today’s highly competitive job market. As artificial intelligence becomes increasingly popular in the workplace, it is more important than ever that students are acquiring unique skill sets and knowledge through higher education. However, as Arne Duncan and John Bridgeland stated in their article, attaining a postsecondary education in the United States is becoming difficult due to excessive tuition costs as well as burdensome student loans. Duncan and Bridgeland raise a good point about how postsecondary education during the twentieth century was affordable, which was a large contributor in expanding the U.S. economy.

    Given that higher education is directly correlated with economic growth, it is crucial that college universities, as well as the Federal Government, are addressing the issue of postsecondary education accessibility. Despite Duncan and Bridgeland’s argument that college education should be free for the first two years, I do not think this solution is plausible to implement “coast to coast” throughout the United States. Their article cites how “our educational advantage had clearly slipped” and that the U.S. fell down to the “12th ranked in the world in higher education attainment,” which implies that the U.S. needs to adopt a free college for all approach in order to remain competitive. In fact, a recent NPR article illustrates how a free college tuition approach does not necessarily produce a higher educated workforce. Interestingly enough, the top three countries that had the highest percentage of college educated workers between the ages of 25 to 34 were countries that did not offer free college tuition. For anybody who has taken an introductory macroeconomics class, you should be familiar with the basic concept that no product, service, or public utility is ever free. Public education, libraries, paved roads, and police protection are all services we enjoy, but we end up paying for these public services through taxes. While offering free college tuition might sound pleasing to the ear, it is ultimately a too simplistic solution to a very complicated matter. If the United States passed legislation that made college tuition completely free, taxes would undoubtedly increase in a dramatic fashion, which could offset any benefits received through increased education. More importantly, because operating a high quality university is costly, colleges are likely to cut costs by reducing their enrollment capacity, decrease the amount of degree programs offered, and by downsizing their current staff. In the long-term, these repercussions would actually make postsecondary education less obtainable, rather than more accessible.

    To address the issue of college accessibility for students of all economic statuses, my recommendation is to have the Federal Government work closely with college universities to implement new processes for cutting tuition costs, increasing loan forgiveness, and helping students find jobs directly related to their field of study. Furthermore, it is crucial that colleges are more thorough in educating their incoming freshmen, as well as graduating seniors, about how to manage their students loans. It is pretty obvious that not all undergraduates are finance majors; therefore, universities should take more responsibility in easing the burden of college debt for it’s students. For students who cannot afford to enroll in a postsecondary education, and who are unable to secure a student loan, I think it is in the government’s best interest to take responsibility by offering students a vocational education alternative. This alternative could prove to be effective as these students can enter the workforce while saving up to eventually enroll in a university program. The main focus for the government should be to help poverty-stricken students get back on their feet financially.

    Works Cited

    Castellanos, Sara. “By 2025, Machines Will Perform Half of Today’s Workplace Tasks.” The
    Wall Street Journal, Dow Jones & Company, 18 Sept. 2018,
    blogs.wsj.com/cio/2018/09/18/by-2025-machines-will-perform-half-of-todays-workplace-
    tasks/. Accessed 21 Sept. 2018.

    Kamenetz, Anya, and Eric Westervelt. “Fact-Check: Bernie Sanders Promises Free College.
    Will It Work?” National Public Radio, NPR, 17 Feb. 2016,
    http://www.npr.org/sections/ed/2016/02/17/466730455/fact-check-bernie-sanders-promises-
    free-college-will-it-work. Accessed 21 Sept. 2018.

  8. As a college student, this article touches upon very intriguing facts and it is extremely easy to relate to. It is known throughout everywhere that college tuition in the United States is outrageously expensive and is only expected to keep on increasing. In addition, especially for this generation receiving a post-secondary education is vital to getting a moderate to a high salary. Also, it is expected for college students to at least receive their Bachelor’s Degree from an accredited school and then depending on the job go to some type of graduate school. This all seems very acceptable to do except for the issue of not having the finances to accomplish these goals. There are plenty of citizens that have the drive and skills to attend college but since they cannot afford it, they have to stop getting educated after high school and go directly into the workforce. This article “Free College for all will power our 21st Century economy and empower our democracy,” discusses how “Many of the success stories that produced these good outcomes for individuals and our country are the result of Americans who got their postsecondary education and training for free in the 1940s, 50s, 60s, and 70s” (Brookings). This information I was not really sure about. It is very interesting because the years listed above are not that far from the 21st century. However, it is understandable that after World War II, as the article presents, that the United States pushed for veterans to get a free education. However, as the years have gone by prices for college tuition have skyrocketed and the students are being taken advantage of. Student loans have one of the highest interest rates which are contradictory because most students do not have jobs due to being full-time in college. In addition, these loans are not always easy to get and most time the student’s parent has to help their child get the loan. Some of these loans will collect interest while students are in college so when that student gets out of school they could basically have a mini mortgage on their hands.
    However, recent events with New York University might start a new trend for creating free college or reducing the price. Many of their medical students keep choosing higher-paying fields just to compensate for the extremely expensive tuition. The university hopes to get students to choose a wider variety of medical fields if their tuition was made free. This adoption that NYU has decided to do is similar to European countries. It is commonly known that a decent amount of European countries have free college and it is something that United States students are craving. In the last presidential election, Bernie Sanders was known for attracting college students because he had plans for making American post-education free. Whether or not his ideas for making those policies were valid is a different debate, but Mr. Sanders had a passion for making that an outcome.
    As stated previously college tuition has been steadily increasing as the years go by and from personal experience it has happened. For instance, tuition at Seton Hall University increased tuition prices as well as room and board and their meal plans. Last year I was able to live on campus to experience my first year of college, but this year I had to make the decision to commute because I need to restrain myself from getting undergraduate student loans. Since I am planning on going onto some type of graduate school it is crucial to not build up unnecessary debt. Although I would prefer to be on campus due to the convenience and build connections with others that could profit me in the future instead of worrying about the rush hour traffic. Overall, I am not certain that free college will be universal throughout the United States anytime soon, I do hope that something is done to reduce the price tag of college tuition.

  9. As a college student the article “Free College For All Will Power Our 21st Century Economy and Empower Our Democracy” immediately caught my interest. I was suspicious of whether or not I would agree, because I have always been against the idea of free college, even though I am spending a very large amount of money to pay for my tuition and other expenses. The reason I have never supported free college is because I fear that making college free would decrease the quality of higher education overall; something I think would be awful. With colleges able to control what they charge they can offer the best education and continue to make improvements, and raise costs to afford it. I also don’t see college as the best option for everyone right out of high school, but if there was no cost nearly everyone would attend. This could mean people who are not benefiting from the experience are going to college, wasting their own time, as well as the resources of the institution, government, or whichever party is funding college education.
    With that being said, I thought that throughout this article, the authors, Arne Duncan and John Bridgeland, made some good points. The first of these would be the point consistently being made that higher education is becoming even more necessary as time progresses. It seems that jobs available to people with only high school education are becoming less and less common, and employers are expecting more education from their candidates. Because of these facts, I believe the author is entirely correct in stating that higher education is essential for our nation’s future. Another important topic covered in the article is that of the student debt that has already been accumulated by United States citizens. This topic leads to what I believe to be a potential alternative to free college, and that is increased funding for debt forgiveness programs. Debt forgiveness requires students to take the leap of getting loans for their education, and paying for college on their own, but gives them hope that they may not need to pay off that debt in the future. This would mean no change would need to be made to what colleges are charging, meaning there should be no decrease in quality of the education provided. Furthermore, potential students who are not confident they would qualify for these debt forgiveness programs (programs that would likely have requirements such as a certain GPA, actively pursuing a job or internship, or otherwise proving value from their education) would not jump into college without truly benefiting from it.
    Lastly, I found this article’s topic of local and state officials enabling free college more appealing than having college free nationwide. The more personal interactions and ease of oversight a smaller community offers increases the likelihood of them being to be able to keep their students motivated, on the proper paths for their goals, and maintain a high level of quality for secondary education. At the very least, testing the idea of free college on a state or local level gives the country a chance to see the pros and cons that it offers, before implementing it across the entire nation. Overall, this article opened my eyes a bit more to the potential of college without cost, and furthered my interest in watching how prices are affected in the future.

  10. In the article “Free college for all will power our 21st-century economy and empower our democracy”, the reasons why the United States should start providing post-secondary education to its citizens are addressed. Today in the United States of America it is difficult to succeed without the benefit of a college degree of some sort. The big problem with this fact, which the article addresses, is that college has become too expensive for a lot of American citizens. Even some of the people that are enrolled in college can’t really afford it. They simply take on loans they can’t pay back that are given at huge interest rates in order to pay for their college tuition. This trend in the United States needs to stop. The article points out that America is 10th in the world in higher education attainment. Before reading this I knew we weren’t number one in that category, but thought we were higher than 10th. Statistics like that are a true indication that the United States needs to get better in this regard. The problem with making college free for everyone is that it costs money to educate people. The only way it is possible to provide a college education completely for free for everyone is if both the republican and democratic parties make a concerted effort to try and provide a free 2 year college education to more of its citizens. The problem with that is that the two parties in congress rarely agree on topics concerning government spending. This makes the prospect of providing a free college education to all of our citizens an impossible task to accomplish.
    However, the article makes the argument that providing free postsecondary education to everyone will grow the economy as it has in the past. It does this by pointing out that when postsecondary education was free in the 1940s, 50s, 60s, and 70s the economy experienced a boom and America’s civil health got better as well. I do agree that college being free had a sizeable effect on the improvements that occurred in American society at the time and the growth of our economy, but I don’t agree that it was the biggest and most clear driving force behind it. Over the course of that time period new technologies were being developed and new industries were being established that created a lot more jobs and increased prosperity for our country. I’m not trying to say that postsecondary education made free for everyone wouldn’t improve the economy. I am simply saying that I do not think it would grow the economy to the enormous extent that the article suggests.
    In addition, another factor that we need to consider is the fact that the amount of government funding that it would take to provide a postsecondary education to everyone would cripple America’s already stretched budget. It would require cutting back on things like social security, unemployment benefits, and spending on infrastructure significantly. This would hurt the economy temporarily and the civil health of the American people while preparing for a future boost of the economy that would come as a result of the people who got a postsecondary education who otherwise wouldn’t have. Due to the uncooperative nature between the two political parties and due to the stress it would put on the government’s budget I don’t think it would be possible to provide a free 2 year postsecondary education for every American citizen.

  11. With respect to today’s increasingly competitive economy and continuing technological advancements, the value of obtaining a college degree or a postsecondary credential has been paramount for individuals who wish to venture into professional careers, pursue higher education opportunities, and expand their current network/relationships. Looking from a broader perspective, it is widely accepted that individuals who currently hold such accolades are also generally more likely to achieve higher earnings, better quality of life, and other benefits that come along with holding “degree-required” professions, such as healthcare insurance and retirement plans. Interestingly enough, the article illustrates a period in United States history when free post secondary education and training, offered in the 1940s through 1970s, contributed to economic development and gave affordable opportunities for millions of veterans, women, and minorities to become successful citizens. However, in the 21st century, the educational advantages, that were once as omnipresent and obtainable, have been viewed as being outweighed with inhibitors that include growing student debts and stagnant graduate rates. To quantifiably scale the immensity and potential implications arising from the current situation, the article mentions how the “growing $1.5 trillion in college debt has been put on the backs of our nation’s students and families” and also adds that the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) reports the United States as “10th” in the world in regards to postsecondary attainment. (Duncan and Bridgeland)

    Although I agree with the authors on the value of postsecondary education and how it will be increasingly more important for future professional pursuits, the “college for all” perspective, as a national aspiration, appears to be a complex motivation that necessitates delicate consideration and evaluation of a plethora of fiscal and social variables. For example, the article mentions that governors and legislators of 23 states have enacted variations of free community college and advocates for more similar actions to take place from “coast to coast”. (Duncan and Bridgeland) However, if this was to be the case for all universities, private and public, my question pertains to how the free-tuition model and policies would impact the current public funding/federal budget and to what extent, in covering the tuition expenses for the 16 million currently enrolled college students and counting. In regards to generating capital to support these expenses, could this also mean a significant increase in taxes that may negatively affect the financial conditions of households and corporations? Also, if free tuition were to potentially increase enrollment, my concern is that this can lead to overcrowding in universities and declining education quality due to elimination of tuition revenue (to fund certain expenditures that may require more than funding received). Aside from these matters, I do believe that the rising student costs/debt from attending college is a widespread problem, and there is a need for measures to mitigate this for incoming generations. In lieu of my aforementioned concerns, the authors believe that “we don’t have a moment to lose” due to current challenges facing our economy and democracy, insinuating the free college model be put in place as soon as possible (Duncan and Bridgeland). However, I believe a more responsible approach involves that of conducting more comprehensive studies and research in regards to its legal, social, and economic implications before a majority consensus for this movement is reached.

    Citations:
    Arne Duncan and John Bridgeland. “Free College for All Will Power Our 21st-Century Economy and Empower Our Democracy.” Brookings, Brookings, 18 Sept. 2018, http://www.brookings.edu/blog/brown-center-chalkboard/2018/09/17/free-college-for-all-will-power-our-21st-century-economy-and-empower-our-democracy/

  12. Free college sounds great in theory but I don’t see it working out in real life. There are free colleges in other countries but they’re not really free. Those citizens pay much higher taxes that go to fund the free colleges. I agree that at 1.5 billion dollar student is outrageous and I can’t believe we let it get that high. Putting money towards education is extremely important but we need focus more on the problems with secondary education before we address post secondary education.

    Public school is free in the US but that doesn’t mean that it’s a quality education. Many teachers have to buy they’re own school supplies, many schools don’t have computers and some of the buildings are falling apart. You need to pass high school before you can even think about going to college. I’ll be the first person to encourage people to go to college but at the end of the day if everyone goes to college somebody is still going end up being a janitor. Making college more affordable is a good thing but I don’t see free college working out that well.

  13. Free college sounds like a very good idea and from a basic economic standpoint, it makes sense. As this article points out, at the time when college was mostly free and extremely affordable, people were able to achieve good paying jobs and buy many things for themselves, and that in turn boosts the economy. Although a more educated, marginally wealthier society seems like a win for everyone, there are some drawbacks to free college. First would be quality. I remember in high school, students whose families who fit into a certain income bracket had to pay for lunch at school. Yes, it sucked for people that had to pay $0.40 – $2.00 everyday just to eat but everyone had been used to it since elementary school. But in my junior year,they decided to make lunch free for all students. At first this may have seemed like a good thing, but then we all noticed that the quality and the diversity of the food had gone down. Then they enforced the rule that you cannot just get part of the lunch, if you got the free lunch you had to take the meal, a milk, and a fruit. This led to a lot of waste of food from everybody and less people eating or enjoying their lunch. So in the end, everybody would agree that they would rather pay for good lunch than be stuck with less desirable options. This is one concern that I have for free education. That the quality of the education would become diluted and the degree would hold less significance, therefore becoming pointless. Even though that is a major concern, as the article says, a degree is already worth less than it was in the past. Obviously not money-wise but opportunity-wise, because a degree used to be more rare and give you a competitive advantage on others in the workforce and qualify you for higher paying jobs which made it worth it. Now, we spend all this money to earn a degree and that is just the minimum to earn an entry level job, that does not pay enough to justify the college debt that is going to hold you back from purchasing. Less purchasing means less economic growth, and just the fact that you might be struggling for most of your life while older people tell you that you should already have a house and a car because they were able to do it. So honestly, I think the problem is not exactly with free college, although they should make it more affordable than it currently is, I think the problem is that the only jobs we can get with these degrees do not pay enough to warrant the degree. Even though some states are attempting to increase wages, everything else such as rent, food, and phone also increase so the change does not have much effect. So my solution would be to make college more affordable and increase wages for jobs that require degrees.

  14. Immediately we can think of free college for everyone as a benefit because it will give people an equal opportunity to progress in life. It will establish a complete sense of fairness and there will be no excuse for one person to be more successful than another, other than their level of knowledge. However, I believe that in our world we need that point of differentiation among us humans. Say the whole world and every single person was equal, then there would be no room for improvement and development. A general standard seems like a much better option for our world’s education, and that is what we have now. Public schools and community colleges are free, and I believe that that is enough to have a good start in life. It allows people to establish a well start, but it will restrict the effect of everyone having the same level of knowledge which will only cause our world to not progress. Although it does not sound like a good fact that some people have it better than others due to their family wealth or connections, it helps in a way. Perhaps everyone in the world was equal, had the same job and same wealth, then everyone would take the easiest job because they all pay the same. Some people have the drive to succeed and make sacrifices in order to flourish, and with that comes harder careers. Others are not driven to do such things, and that would put a standstill on our world improvement if all college was free and everyone was equal.

  15. Education is the most important key to success, especially in a capitalistic society such as ours. Higher education allows you to earn a higher wage and advance in your career. Although there are jobs that don’t require an Associate’s degree or a Bachelor’s degree but those fall under the Blue Collar designation. Making college free for everybody will not solve the education problem that we are facing in America. In countries that currently outpace ours in education, there is a general interest and excitement about education. Student loans have become so steep that many students have lost hope in attaining their degree because they don’t think they will be able to afford their loan payments after graduation.

    Student loans need to be more affordable, that includes lowering interest rates and loan forgiveness. For example the newly elected governor of New Jersey, Phil Murphy, has taken steps towards making community college free for qualified candidates. More people will attempt to pursue a degree if they know that it can be obtained for free or at little to no cost to themselves. And the author of the article makes the same point, that more people need to get some sort of postsecondary education. Whether that takes the form of an Associate’s degree or going to trade school or even obtaining coding certifications.

    Millions of Americans will rely on the college degree they get to support themselves and their family, so in reality the investment pays for itself. Now imagine an economy that is not weighed down by over a trillion dollars in student debt. When Bernie Sanders suggested free college during the 2016 Presidential election everyone thought he was crazy, but he may have been on to something. Not to make all college free, of course, but to make it more affordable and attractive to more people across a greater range of social and economic backgrounds makes a lot of sense. In order to gain ground on the countries that have overtaken the United States in terms of higher education more people need to graduate with their degrees. By raising the number of people graduating with degrees we better prepare our future generations to encourage the furthering of education and will prove fruitful for our economy as well.

  16. I believe free college is an idea everyone can get behind but may not always seem realistic. The article, from brookings.edu, demonstrates how student debt is a problem and some very convincing alternatives. I never knew how many colleges in the past offered virtually free tuition. With today’s annual increase in tuition it makes me curious to how this happened. Student debt is clearly an issue and has multiple effects on college students. Some students are pressured to have full time jobs while attending school and still try to finish their degree in 4 years. This leads to an unbelievable amount of stress and can also cause poor academic performance. In an increasing competitive environment, especially for jobs with high salary, students in this situation may lose out on a job offer because they did not have the time or energy to compete with other students. At the end of the day, now this student may have a lower paying job after college and will still have more debt to pay off, despite working throughout college. Student debt almost defeats the purpose of going to college. As discussed in the article, there are many students that have debt exceeding their income level and are unable to pay back loans.
    One way this can problem can be fixed is by having more programs like the Tennessee Promise. I never realistically thought college could be free, but this is one idea that has worked so far. This program guarantees at least a free community college education. Even just two years of free college can hypothetically cut college debt in half. I found it very interesting how even though this program offers free college, it is still realistic because students are receiving education in fields that can help grow their regional economies. I think this is a framework that can be used around the nation. One reason why student’s debt exceeds their income level is because they are majoring in a subject where no job can meet their level of their debt. Having a program where students can still choose, but they are guided, to pick specific majors based on their region or on how much debt they may accumulate, can help secure a better job.

  17. It is without a doubt in my mind that without a college degree or post secondary education in the world we live in today, finding a job will be extremely difficult unless one is banking on their entrepreneurial mindset to carry them forward. The idea of making college free for all is promising. Year after year we have kept seeing news headlines that involved increases in our countries student loan debt in the trillions of dollars. Many students will take on an exorbitant amount of student loan debt in America because they know that if they don’t, their chances of being able to advance in whichever career they are trying to pursue will be narrow. As a country that has first handedly witnessed the benefits that can arise from providing free college education to all its citizens, it would make logical sense to revert back to that strategy.
    Unfortunately, I believe Universities and other Institutions have merely taken advantage of students by over charging them. Though most colleges are setup as nonprofits, some people fail to recognize that nonprofit organizations can certainly still profit and have done so throughout history. The fact that other governors and officials have already taken initiative towards cutting college costs or completely removing them shows signs of hope for our country. If our countries student loan debt crisis continues to climb this can have an adverse affect on not only our economy but on our financial markets as well. The more debt people have that can’t be payed off, the less likely they will be able to take out that mortgage or car lease for example. I am inclined to believe that our country will make and take the necessary steps to ensure that our student debt crisis does not continue to rapidly climb. Hope is all we’ve got unless your in the business of politics where you can lobby and fight for this cause.

  18. I thoroughly enjoyed this read as it gives factual evidence of how as a nation college students were thriving when colleges were free as compared to today’s situation. As in our nation felt whole as people could receive a proper education without having to worry about having to pay for their education for the rest of their lives. For example the article mentions how postsecondary education was free from the 1940s to 1970s all across the nation which resulting in an economic boost since people could spend their money with absolute no stress over student debt. The article mentions that not only did people spend more but college aged individuals were more into voting and charitable volunteer work as well. What I took away from this was that they were in a much happier state and did not have to be selfish about their time because they did not have to worry about working and saving every penny just to receive an education that will able them to even possible start a career path. Today for most jobs it is not enough to have a bachelor’s degree, it is becoming more of a demand to have a master’s degree which of course is even more costly. As the article states that as of now $1.5 trillion is the college debt for college students in America which only pushes the youth away from attending college. Which then leads to the effect of not receiving a job that will put an individual on a career path that can better our nation’s future. If every young individual right now decides to work at McDonald’s because they couldn’t afford to go to college – what would our future hold as a nation to have not helped the youth receive an education to help make a better future?

  19. The most important takeaway from this article is that the writer is explaining the importance of free college with the reference of the post ‘World War Two’ circumstances. The world war two created economic and political uncertainty in the world due to the massive killings and significant expenditure on the military forces. The lack of professionals and educated individuals were creating problems in the reconstruction of the USA. In these circumstances, the universities such as Rice University in Texas, CUNY, SUNY, and California State Universities taught to the students free of cost. The free college education to the community allows the government of the United States to produce the quality professionals in the 1960’s to 1980’s. These professionals contributed towards the revival of the education industry, economic reforms and even become the legislators of the country. The only reason that the United States was able to produce the quality experts was the free college education that trained the student in the expertise area and ethical behavior to minimize the racial and demographic conflicts in the society. (Duncan & Bridgeland)
    The writer is providing the accurate and reasonable evidence of the relationship between the free college education and the empowerments of the economy and democracy of the United States. The writer is dividing the society of the United States into two different categories. The first category is capable to pay the expenses of the universities and the second category is unable to pay the expenses of the universities. The important factor is that the category that cannot afford the university fee is the large population of the United States and the United States is losing the quality professionals and experts due to the expensive charges of the universities today. The limited access to the quality and higher education to the large population is increasing the low skilled labor in the United States. The increase in the number of UBER drivers, security companies and home delivery employees is a signal that the population of the United States is not obtaining the university education due to the high expenses of the universities. (Duncan & Bridgeland)
    In the 1950’s and 1960’s the free education, tactics allow the children of the middle class and low-class citizens to get enrollment in the universities. The free education allows the poor students to increase their skills, professional expertise and contribute towards the economy and the empowerment of the democracy. The gap between the different classes in the society converges significantly and the supply of the quality graduates increased the progress of the country in the 1970’s and 1980’s. Therefore, it is crucial that the government reduce the university expenses for the students and increase the number of universities to assure that the population of poor category gets a quality education to empower the economy and democracy of the United States in the 21st century. (Duncan & Bridgeland)
    The writer is highlighting the threat of a consistent reduction in the university graduates in the United States of America. The recent study of different organizations such as OECD shows that the US is losing the status of research and education leader in these years. The United States is currently at the 10th position on the basis of university graduates and will decline in the coming years. In these circumstances, it is important that the government must introduce the free university programs for the citizens of the United States to increase the growth of the economy and sustainable democracy. The improvement in the economy via education reforms will assist in empowering the democracy. (Duncan & Bridgeland)

  20. In the 21st century, it is essential for students to achieve a college or secondary school degree in order to work for a large corporation and assimilate well into the academic society, but it in not essential for success in America.
    Looking into the past, it is obvious to see how college degrees have helped America’s economy and civic health. The advancements that have been made in the past hundred years to healthcare, technology, and many other industries improved at a rate faster than ever before. However, it is also important to see how successful many individuals have been without it. The argument that college degrees are essential for every student and adult just isn’t true anymore. Anyone working in IT today, will tell you that most of what they learned they taught themselves; by looking online and working on their own computers. The degree they have is often just the paper to say they are certified; it is not necessary for learning anymore. The article mentioned that this post secondary education cannot be limited to a four-year institutional degree, and I agree that there should be a greater emphasis on certificates and other training for our essential blue-collar workers. Engine-maintenance technicians, plumbers, electricians, dental hygienists, and radiologic technicians are essential to the function of our society and they should be able to further their intelligence and information range if they choose to.
    This is not to say that it is not important for people to get their four-year degree, but free educations for every student in America that is looking for further education does not seem realistic. Universities are a business and they need to make money to run the campus and pay their professors. Without payment from students, this funding would be heavily weighed into taxes and federal funding, and if you are a student who wants to go into the plumbing and electrician field than why would your parents need to pay such high taxes for their own child not to benefit? (Denver Post). A college degree can empower someone and allow them the opportunity to work for large corporations, move up the company ladder, and gives them the ability to enter a company without starting out in the mail room. Yet many people today often aren’t looking for that nine-to-five job that college often pushes you into. This generation spends their time and money traveling, investing in their own businesses, and living a fulfilling life without a college degree.
    So while a free degree may be nice, there is also a possibility that offering a degree to everyone will decrease the value of the degree (Denver Post). It will force people to have to get their masters in order to have a “one-up” on another candidate and people will spend more time in school and less time working to pay off these loans.

    https://www.denverpost.com/2016/09/23/the-many-problems-with-free-college-for-everyone/

  21. As humans’ beings we like receiving things without paying for one cent for it. Especially when it comes down to a college education. We will be forever grateful if we were to have a free college education. And as a college student why don’t they implement it now. Student debt has hit a record of about 1.5 trillion dollars in student loans. Would it be great if college was easily available? Many will say yes, but there is a problem with this topic. As the article states college was affordable for students 50 to 60 years ago. But why do we have this enormous debt in our hands to today? I personally think today there is such a demand for certain occupations that required a degree. And since there is a high demand people will do anything to obtain a degree. Meaning they will take out loans and do their best. And coincidently a few days back in my economics class it provided data on how students enrollment increases and so does tuition. Meaning cost may not be an issue when working for a college degree. As people see college as an investment in their future or their children’s future. If college were to be free, it would be a disgrace for those put in their own money to work hard for their degrees. I think college should be where it is today. Putting a price tag will encourage those who are ready for the academic world. Those who are truly ready to put in investment into there future. Now, a price tag may discourage those who feel it will be a burden for their family. As high costs can create some struggle in one’s lives. I personally know people who look at the price tag has a reach, but still, attend the school. Because they know the fact that a college education at a reputable school can create opportunities in the long run.

  22. As someone who is currently in the process of struggling to pay for school, this article jumped off of the page to me. College is difficult enough between maintaining grades, moving away from home, staying healthy, working, and maintaining a social life without the added pressure of needing to secure a loan that won’t be paid off for a few decades. This wasn’t such an issue in the past when there were plenty of options available to people who only had high school or associate degrees, so most of the people getting extensive educations after high school either really needed it in their field or already had the money to pay for the degree. Despite all of that, college degrees were still significantly more affordable for most of the 20th century than it is compared to today. Nowadays, most employers are looking for a bachelor’s degree at minimum, if not a master’s degree. That’s 4 or more years of tuition that you can’t afford to pay yourself. Every year, college students take on tens of thousands of dollars of debt so that they can one day find a job, while at the same time new college graduates are desperate to find jobs so they can start paying back the loans they took out to get jobs in the first place.
    With a system as flawed as this, significant changes need to me made. However, I’m not sure how feasible the “free college for all” plan really is. I feel that a less expensive alternative that could still make a bachelor’s degree more accessible is to reconfigure community colleges. A handful of states already have junior colleges that offer four year degrees. Unfortunately, the majority of those schools only have a couple of major options per school. There is also still a stigma associated with community college degrees, which is unfair because the number one reason students choose junior colleges is the price. That can only change over time, but the other issue can be solved much sooner. With enough of an investment, community colleges can diversify their program offerings for four year degrees. That would open the door all of the people who can’t afford the tuition of a four year school, are opposed to taking on the burden of student loans, or can’t move away from home but don’t have the time to spend commuting too far. That is a win all around. More and better degrees leads to more opportunities and higher pay for the graduates, more money from those employees being spent, and more qualified workers for employers to hire.

  23. As a college student who attends a pretty expensive private university, I can say that the idea of free college sounds like the greatest idea since sliced bread. I was unaware that college was free from the 40’s to the 70’s; I always knew that college was cheaper back then but virtually free came as a surprise to me. It was also mentioned in the article that World War 2 veterans especially received free post secondary education. As far as I know, luckily, if you have served then the government will still help pay for higher education either during or after you have served. As much as I would love to receive a free college education, I do not believe that it is going to be possible anytime soon. The main problem being that nowadays college is extremely expensive. It takes a lot of money to keep a college campus running with the enormous amounts of facilities, housing units, professors and programs; all of this accompanied by ever advancing technology that the schools have to keep up with makes running a university cost a lot of money. This is all paid by student tuition and state funding if the college is a public university. But if the university is private then all the funding is solely based on student tuition and donations. If we were to make college completely free, I do not see where these universities would receive the money needed in order to function fully. There is a staff full of hundreds of professors and campus workers that are obviously not there to work for free. If the government were willing to pay for students to attend college then I think that salaries would drop along with the colleges ability to stay up to date with current technological trends. Money would be spread thin, not allowing the college to run as it should. I would love for higher education to be free, but I do not think that we are financially ready for it to be. My main question is who is going to pay for it?

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