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5 Reasons Why College Should Be Free: The Case for Debt-Free Education


The cost of college is rising even faster than inflation in the U.S. Many students around the world face financial constraints when it comes to attending college. Because education is such a vital part of life, there are many reasons why college should be free.

Not only do the arguments for debt-free education include personal benefits, but they also show how education helps to positively impact society overall.

Thankfully, the progression in technology is making it possible to increase access to education globally.

However, there is still a long way to go and more schools and countries are weighing the pros and cons of offering an affordable education. The ability to provide free education for all is becoming more of a possibility as time progresses.

College graduates at affordable university

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5 Reasons Why College Should Be Free

Here are 5 reasons that support the case for debt-free education:

1. Improves Society

When people are more educated, they can solve problems better. This means that society can progress at a faster rate.
Additionally, people with education can better understand the history of their society and its current economic conditions. As such, they may be more inclined to participate in politics and improve their country.
Also, when more people have access to a college education, the number of employable people for high-skilled jobs increases. This means that more people will join the workforce, which could help lessen the wealth gap between the upper, middle, and lower classes.

2. Widened Workforce

Along with technological progressions comes a shift in the workforce. Most automated jobs are replacing low-skill workers. Automation is spreading quickly across positions that require repetition, like back-office tasks.
However, automation is not meant to replace the entire workforce. Instead, the needs of most economies are shifting to require a more skilled workforce, with people who have good analytical skills and creative thinking abilities. These skills are both taught and honed with a college education. If more people could attend college for free, then the workforce will expand.
The workforce will also be more agile. In the case of an economic downturn when one industry falters, another generally rises to replace it. Then, workers need to be retrained and taught skills for the job. If more people could enter school and gear their studies towards booming industries, then the population will be more equipped to cope with economic changes.

3. A Boosted Economy

Most students graduate with a massive amount of debt. For example, in the U.S., the average student debt per person is $31,172.
When students graduate with debt, they will likely continue to add to their debt with interest. As such, it can take many years before they manage to dig themselves out of debt that only seems to keep growing. In the meantime, this delays spending on such things as buying a house or a car.
On the other hand, if people were to graduate without debt, that could fast track their ability to earn, save, and spend. This helps to stimulate the economy. With increases in consumer spending, there is more demand. More demand in spending also relates back to higher demand in the workforce or more opportunities for employment. This spurs a positive cycle of economic activity.
Furthermore, the fear of being in debt can cause students to avoid school entirely. But, if the debt wasn’t a reality, then the younger generation may feel more motivated to go to school in the first place.

4. Increase Equality

Since affordability is a major issue for so many people when it comes to attending college, the playing field has not always been equal.
A lot of the brightest minds in the world stem from low-income households, but that shouldn’t hold them back from continuing their education. If there was an equal opportunity to attend school, then everyone would have the chance to go to school. Affordable education is a major step towards equality.

5. More Focus

When students are not worried about money, they can focus better on their studies. Even when students have loans and financial aid, they may find themselves stuck worrying about how they will have to pay them back in the future. This added stress can negatively impact their focus during the time when they are supposed to be learning.

Free education in Germany

Photo by Christian Wiediger on Unsplash

Countries That Offer Free College

Many countries understand how debt-free education provides positive outcomes. Therefore, they made tuition-free universities a reality.

Here’s a look at some countries where education is free for everyone, free for just their residents or highly subsidized by the government for foreign exchange students:

  • Germany
  • Austria (free for EU residents, low cost for non-EU residents)
  • Finland
  • Czech Republic
  • France
  • Spain (free for EU residents, low cost for non-EU residents)

The Advantages of Online University

With technological advances, online universities are proliferating. Online universities require less overhead costs. Therefore, they are almost always cheaper than traditional schools. However, there are even some that are totally tuition-free.

Founded in 2009, Shai Reshef started the University of the People with the mission to offer an affordable and quality education to anyone around the world. Students from over 200 countries and territories have been in attendance of the online programs.

We have degree programs in Computer Science, Health Science, Education, and Business Administration.

Thanks to a wide network of volunteers and professors from renowned institutions around the world, the education offered parallels that of a traditional American university and is accredited as such.

The Takeaway

The money for tuition-free or cheaper universities will have to come from somewhere. Arguments against free education include the fact that taxes may increase, either individual or on businesses. Otherwise, the money will have to be allocated from elsewhere, like potentially decreasing military spending.

Despite the political considerations, there are ways to make tuition-free education possible or, at least, more widespread. As illustrated, there are many advantages to offering affordable college education to everyone around the world. At University of the People, that’s exactly what we are all about!