According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the cost of an in-state, four-year institution is roughly $19,000 per year. The price tag on a college education is rising faster than wages. So, the question of whether or not lowering college tuition is a good idea comes up frequently. The arguments for and against this notion are rife with moral, political, and economical considerations.
Here, we will look at both sides of the coin. We will present the reasons why lowering college tuition is a good idea, as well as share the arguments that have been made against it.
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Pros of Lowering the Cost of Education
The reasons to lower college tuition seem obvious. We all know that life isn’t “fair,” but education seems like it should be a human right. At least, that’s what we believe at the University of the People.
As such, there are many reasons why making college more affordable is a good idea. Here are some pros to lowering college tuition:
1. Level the Playing Field:
Right now, if you can’t afford to pay for college out of your pockets, you can’t always go to your school of choice. You may feel forced to take loans or apply for scholarships. Therefore, the playing field is not equal. The only way to really make college education fair for everyone is to make it affordable (or free) for everyone. A lot of countries, especially in Europe, have already made this a reality. The University of the People has done the same by being a high-quality, 100% online, and tuition-free institution.
2. More Educated Population:
If more people could afford college, more people would probably attend. This leads to a more educated population. It has been shown that a more educated public results in higher political participation. With more people involved in a society, there is more opportunity to make positive changes and move society forward at a faster rate.
3. Less Debt:
On average, students in America graduate with debt that is more than $31,000. Entering into the workforce with that amount of debt makes saving a far reality, and also makes spending more difficult. Being in debt may delay big purchases like buying a house or car. These investments often require more loans, and the interest helps to stimulate the economy. But, with the massive amount of student loan debt, graduates have to budget to pay back loans.
4. More Money:
For the most part, having your college degree provides you with the opportunity to earn more money over your lifetime. With each higher level of education comes higher salaries. For example, high school graduates earn an average of $30,000 per year. Those with bachelor’s degrees earn around $50,000, and graduates with a master’s earn around $70,000.
5. Passion for Education:
When college costs are high, the experience is considered an investment. Therefore, students often weigh the pros and cons of different majors and may end up choosing a major out of the salary potential. Rather than studying what they love, they may feel forced to major in a subject that provides more earning potential. College should be an enjoyable experience. If there were less stress on money, then people around the world may be more inclined to pursue their passions. This would, in turn, result in a workforce that feels more satisfied with their jobs.
Arguments Against Lowering Tuition
It makes sense that making college free isn’t an easy thing to do. Firstly, you have to pay the staff and administration, as well as the overhead costs to keep the campus running. Secondly, many universities are for-profit and run as a business. Therefore, profits are of utmost importance.
Some arguments against lowering college tuition include the following:
The question is, “Where would the money come from?” Some people say that increasing taxes is the solution, but who will bear the burden? Also, other ideas would be to cut military spending, for example. This creates a highly polarized political argument.
2. Money Management:
For many people, college is the first big item on their life’s list where they need to learn money management. College can teach how to create budgets and understand money skills that can be used later in life. So, if college tuition was lessened, how would younger generations hone this skill?
If everyone can attend college, does education lose its value? College degrees serve as a signal to employers and make the hiring process inherently differentiated between college graduates and those who didn’t get a degree. Will college lose its importance if everyone can go and you don’t really have to pay for it?
Another concern is that if the demand for college was higher, then would the quality suffer? The argument here is that if the quality suffered, then more people may opt out of college, ultimately decreasing enrollment rather than increasing it over the long-term.
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The Case for Tuition-Free Higher Education
While the arguments against lower tuition do have some validity, education should be a right for all.
The University of the People started in 2009 to make this a reality. Of course, as a completely online university with aid from volunteers and donations, this is achievable. At the University of the People, the educational model is uniquely different than traditional universities on many levels. For one, everything is online. Additionally, there is a high importance to the level of interaction between peers as students may even grade one another’s work. Furthermore, the requirements for entrance are a lot less strict than most American universities. There is no need to complete a college entrance exam, like the SAT or ACT. Instead, prospective students must demonstrate that they are proficient in English and have completed high school.
To Be Continued…
Only time and political decisions will decide whether or not college tuition fees will be lowered. The facts show that tuition continues to increase faster than wages, which is making college affordability an issue.
On the one hand, students have alternatives like finding tuition-free universities, studying abroad, or studying online. On the other hand, it would be a fair and idyllic world if everyone had equal access to the institution of their choice.