Today, the United States is one of the most powerful and properly developed countries across the globe that offers various opportunities for its citizens. Still, despite its international ratings and successful image, many problems remain covert and poorly addressed, and ambiguous college education is one of them. Some people believe that it is necessary to pay the price for knowledge and practice students get during their education.
However, one should remember the consequences of the coronavirus on local and state budgets, multiple restrictions, and unpredictable lifestyle changes (Fay). There are also many strong reasons for supporting free college education, and I am one of those individuals who want to encourage this idea in American society. Although free college education could weaken student persistence and raise new financial questions, such outcomes as debt reduction, equality promotion, and workforce improvement require attention and recognition to motivate people and enhance development.
College education plays an important role in modern American life because it helps achieve multiple employment opportunities and succeed in the workforce. Young people need credible and trusted resources to learn new material, exchange information, and apply their knowledge to practice. When students have to pay for their education, they get distracted by the necessity to search for additional funding sources, parental involvement, and dependence on outside factors. Being in a college is a period to learn something new and strengthen skills, but never a moment when financial aspects prevail over personal beliefs. In other words, students should have a chance to choose what to study and when.
A free college education is not a new idea for Americans, and there were years when the states offered free tuition for native citizens. For example, in the middle of the 1900s, the GI Bill of Rights or the Servicemen’s Readjustment Act of 1944 was signed to provide veterans with benefits to continue their free high education and training (Geiger 4-5). Twenty years later, women and minorities got the right to access college education in equal conditions with male students. These years were known as the economic boom, regardless of the adverse effects of World War II. In 1976, tuition-free policies were rejected because of a constantly increasing number of students, and new questions about the quality and accessibility of education occurred. American history proves that free college is possible, and it is high time to consider this change today.
At this moment, it is easy to introduce many arguments for and against free college education and find enough support and evidence for both positions. My goal is not only to prove that free college is beneficial for Americans but to show that this country is ready and experienced enough to implement this idea. The development of international relationships, globalization, the exchange of human resources, and the pandemic crisis have revealed the strengths and weaknesses of many countries. The potential of the United States is great compared to other nations, but there is always some space for improvement. France, Germany, and Finland offer free tuition for their citizens and international students in some cases. In their turn, Americans are aware of how expensive and inconvenient college tuition costs can be. Thus, college should be free for students, and I want to underline some arguments to maintain this idea.
Arguments to Support
Many modern organizations set a clear requirement of degrees for their candidates, which proves the importance of higher education for all citizens. However, college costs continue increasing, making it impossible for some individuals to make payments on time. As a result, student debts rise, and families are not able to support their children in obtaining college degrees after school. In addition, the COVID-19 crisis has negatively affected employment processes, under which education differences became more evident. For example, men in their 60s without a college degree were retired, provoking more disparate and disrupted education and employment attachments (Moen et al. 210). Free college education should be encouraged today to reduce student debts, promote equality, and improve the workforce.
Student loan debt growth is one of the main reasons for supporting free college education. American families cannot afford to pay for their children’s education, and students take loans to cover their academic needs. Student debts create another financial crisis in the United States, and nothing is done to change the situation (Applebaum 416). According to Kerr and Wood, college graduates in 2020 borrowed about $30,000 on average, compared to $25,000 in 2010. Approximately 11% of adults report difficulties making student loan payments year-to-date, which leads to the creation of new suspension conditions and discussions (Hanson). Student debts also have severe consequences that affect human life.
People should pay their rent, follow other financial obligations, meet their physiological needs (food, drinks, and clothes), and never forget to take a break and entertain for at least a while. Mandatory loans and payments grow, and a rational solution is not easy to make. Yet, if college is free, many questions and unnecessary financial concerns may be considerably reduced. The value of a college education will not be related to money only but recognized as a personal achievement and a reasonable decision.
Equal and fair relationships are vastly promoted in contemporary society, and free college education is a serious contribution to this principle. Students admit that they have to postpone their higher education, transfer to less privileged colleges, or start working because of the inability to pay for their college (Fay). These thoughts are rooted deeply in human minds and make people take actions they do not like or do not want. There are also gender and racial differences in student loans: 57% of financial aid recipients are females, and 62% of recipients are Asian students (Hanson). These numbers prove that expensive college education provokes social disparities and destroys the basis of equal society and fair opportunities.
College is the best place to learn and grow, and it is a nightmare that only wealthy or lucky people attend (Delbanco 463). When there is no need to pay for college, people can understand the worth of equity and use their knowledge to improve living conditions, find good jobs, and solve their financial problems based on racial or gender biases. Education and equality must be synonyms but never another topic for debate.
Finally, free college tuition may affect the employment sector and expand the workforce. During the last two years, the COVID pandemic has caused many unpredictable trials for employees and employers. Leaders had to fire people or ask them to work remotely, which required personal investments and initiated mental health problems. Discrimination in hiring and retaining older adults and younger workers continued to grow and change employees’ attitudes toward their education, interests, and preferences (Moen et al. 220).
When young people do not want to continue their education in college because of high costs, they deprive themselves of the opportunity to develop their skills and obtain the necessary knowledge. Older adults become the only ones who have some experience, but their options are limited because of COVID-19 restrictions and safety measures. Thus, the workforce gets scarce, and there are few professional human resources from which companies could choose. If there is a chance to increase the number of experts in different industries by offering free college education, it should not be neglected by a society challenged by the coronavirus.
This discussion should also contain several arguments that the opponents of a free college education may use to prove the importance of freedom and equality. One of the most evident reasons for restraining tuition-free policies for colleges is the necessity to have stable financial support and resources for education. College is already free for many American families and international students because the government wants to support low-income students with benefits (Aker).
There has to be money for laboratory enhancement, books, and equipment for classrooms. Some budget resources could be used, but they are not enough if the country needs them for military purposes or other urgent situations. Taxes should be increased for all Americans to allow some students to have free education, which seems unfair. However, the US government is smart and experienced enough in finding new sources. The possibility of raising educated citizens and well-prepared workers with free college degrees opens new horizons and perspectives.
Another counterargument is the threat of undermining student persistence and a fast-growing number of students searching for free options. It is evident that more people would like to go to college if it is free. With time, the academic staff could face space and human shortages. Arguing Senator Sanders, who proposed free public education, Aker calls free college “the fastest way to destroy precisely what makes higher education in this country exceptional” (para. 2).
Students should not compete to prove their rights for educational benefits and demonstrate their best qualities as candidates for the chosen programs. However, free education would only mean no necessity to pay for it. Following standards, meeting deadlines, and having qualities are the requirements that never disappear. Free college does not remove obligations, and this step opens the doors to all on equal conditions. The way how students enter these doors and use their opportunities is unique and individual.
College should be free, and this position has many solid supportive arguments. American history proves the possibility of free college for citizens on equal grounds. Today’s financial problems and student debts also serve as evidence that high education costs are not a benefit for the country but a challenge for its people. Although individuals believe that someone should pay for college to cover available resources, I think they are just blind to see future perspectives on this idea. Young people must study, develop their skills, and strengthen their knowledge but not worry about their payments and family incomes. As soon as the modern generation is well educated and trained, it is possible to find new ways to cover educational expenses and create an equal and fair society.
Aker, Beth. “Don’t Ruin College by Making It Free.” Education Next. 2020. Web.
Applebaum, Robert. “Student Loans: Should Some Indebtedness Be Forgiven?” In Current Issues and Enduring Questions: A Guide to Critical Thinking and Argument, with Readings, edited by Sylvan Barnet et al. 12th ed., Bedford Books, 2020, pp. 416-420.
Delbanco, Andrew. “A College Education: What Is Its Purpose?” In Current Issues and Enduring Questions: A Guide to Critical Thinking and Argument, with Readings, edited by Sylvan Barnet et al. 12th ed., Bedford Books, 2020, pp. 463-477.
Fay, Laura. “Will ‘Free College’ Survive COVID-19? How the Pandemic Could Devastate College Promise Programs – And Why the November Election Might Be Their Only Hope.” T74. 2020. Web.
Geiger, Roger L. American Higher Education Since World War II: A History. Princeton University Press, 2019.
Hanson, Melanie. “Student Loan Debt Statistics.” Education Data Initiative. 2021. Web.
Kerr, Emma, and Sarah Wood. “See 10 Years of Average Total Student Loan Debt.” U.S. News. 2021. Web.
Moen, Phyllis, et al. “Disparate Disruptions: Intersectional COVID-19 Employment Effects by Age, Gender, Education, and Race/Ethnicity.” Work, Aging and Retirement, vol. 6, no. 4, pp. 207-228.