One of my offspring turned this essay in for a college writing assignment. The class debated this. The Class Instructor gave the paper 250 out of 250 points.
My kid understands the Americans are buying the rope to hang ourselves. I explained who you folks are and asked her permission to post this. She is curious as to what Prison Planet Forum comments regarding this may be.
17 November 2012
Free College Education: To Be, or Not To Be
Free education, or rather anything free and worth your while, is a very idealist thought in today’s society. The amount of involvement and help from the government is currently at a balanced level. While President Obama would like to have reached his goal of a free higher education by 2020, (Obama) it should not be pursued because taxes would be raised, the individual state’s debt would increase drastically, and government involvement would inhibit academic freedom.
In 2010, President Obama stated, “The single most important thing we can do is to make sure we’ve got a world-class education system for everybody. That is a prerequisite for prosperity.” (Obama) To start with the first claim in this statement, “make sure we’ve got a world-class education system for everybody”, yes, this is something that can always be improved and it should be available to every United States citizen that is willing to pay for their own personal education. College is a service to the population; every other service is paid for by the serviced person. If you go to a restaurant, the customer pays for the chef to make their food, the time the waiters invest to help them, and the utilities provided. College should not be any different. It is a service that requires time invested to help the student and utilities not provided by the student. As for the second claim, “That is a prerequisite for prosperity” (Obama), this is a very hasty generalization. Many people, such as Mark Zuckerburg and Bill Gates, have not completed a college degree and become extremely wealthy, if that is the meaning of prosperity in this context. Having a diploma does not guarantee you a spot in a high paying job field. Not having a diploma, on the other hand, does not mean you will be unsuccessful. Colleges and universities do not teach all the necessary skills to be the best employee in your field. While there are many great opportunities for learning and it can be very beneficial, it is not “a prerequisite for prosperity” (Obama).
If college were free, it would still have to be paid for by someone. Instead of each person being responsible for their own tuition, taxes would be raised for everyone, including the poor. Tax money should be spent in ways that profit the whole of the public, not just individuals. In order for the government to provide this amenity, people who are not benefiting from this opportunity would be being forced to pay for it. Currently, “for the average full-time student, net tuition – which subtracts grants and tax-based aid – is less than half of the published price at private nonprofit four-year schools and less than a third of the published price at the typical public four-year institution” (Scott-Clayton). According to the College Board, the average full-time undergraduate receives about $6,500 annually in grant aid and almost $1,000 in tax-based aid (College Board). Only about a third of full-time students pay the stated price for college tuition. And this price may also be significantly reduced by tuition tax credits (Scott-Clayton).
With the unpaid tuition landing on each individual state’s government, the state debt would fall even faster into greater debt. Currently Arizona is in debt about $45,583,997,500 (U.S. Debt Calculator). With the average college tuition price for a full-time, in-state, public university being about $15,000 per student (College Board), having state or even national government be responsible for this fee (times 19 million students), would throw our national debt into a tailspin. If it is that student’s choice to attend college and further their own education, the responsibility, and fees, should be on them. As for the people that can not afford college, there are numerous scholarships that can alleviate the stress of tuition or even make it disappear. There are ways for less fortunate people to go to college without putting the responsibility on the general public.
In order to have higher education be free, the government would have to be involved since they would be the ones providing the funds. With this involvement would come increased restrictions and limitations and academic freedom would suffer. In the words of The American Association of University Professors; “Institutions of higher education are conducted for the common good and not to further the interest of either the individual teacher or the institution as a whole. The common good depends upon the free search for truth and its free exposition” (The American Association of University Professors). With the government’s hand so heavily laid into our education, since they are paying for it, there would be lots of restrictions and a very strict enforcement, so that they would make sure to not waste a penny. Teachers' salaries and the budget for class supplies would decrease even further. If college were free, class sizes would overflow without adequate increase in funding from the state. The state would greatly influence who is accepted and the terms on which that decision is made. It would also be able to influence the curriculum. For example, in the case with Ireland, “the government has so much influence over higher education that it altered the governing structures of the major universities in 2000 through legislation and has representation on the boards of each university” (Government of Ireland). This kind of control is extremely negative and destructive to universities academic independence.
An alternative to free college that wouldn’t have all these negative effects would be to have programs that help students find scholarships and grants. While there are websites to look up these options some people would benefit more from an advisor walking hand in hand with them and showing them their options. Another option to help relieve stress would be to cut costs to lower tuition. There are many luxuries used in colleges and universities that are not necessary. Tanning beds and gourmet food are surely things that a college does not need to give their students the best education possible. The government should first attempt to lower tuition before jumping to increasing taxes and debt, and restricting academic freedom.
College Board. "Trends in Higher Education." 2012.
Web. 2 December 2012 <http://trends.collegeboard.org/student-aid/figures-tables/total-aid>.
Government of Ireland. "Universities Act, 1997." 4 May 1997. Irish Statute Book.
Web. 2 December 2012 <http://www.irishstatutebook.ie/1997/en/act/pub/0024/index.html>.
Obama, Barack. "A Blueprint for Reform." 27 May 2011. Ed.gov.
Web. 18 November 2012.
Scott-Clayton, Judith. College is Cheaper Than You Think. 4 November 2011.
Web. 2 December 2012 <http://economix.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/11/04/college-is-cheaper-than-you-think/?emc=eta1>.
The American Association of University Professors. Academic Freedom.
Web. 2 December 2012 <http://www.aaup.org/aaup/issues/af/>.
U.S. Debt Calculator. State of Arizona Debt Clock. 5 December 2012.
Web. 5 December 2012 <http://www.usdebtclock.org/state-debt-clocks/state-of-arizona-debt-clock.html>.