In Germany, and various other nations of the world, college education is practically free to everyone, whereas in the United States, “tuition for U.S. universities has surged 500 percent since 1985 and continues to rise,” as reported in the Washington Post. Due to the increase, “the number of American students enrolled in German universities has risen…an estimated 10,000 U.S. citizens are studying at German colleges- nearly all of them for free,” according to NBC News.
But is it possible to fund free college education in America?
NPR shared an article written by Andrew Kelly, director of the Center of Higher Education Reform at the American Enterprise Institute, who said, “Capping tuition at zero limits college spending to whatever the public is willing to spend. But it does not change the cost of college, or what institutions actually spend per student.” In fact, this ‘free’ college education may actually lead to an upsurge in the number of student enrollments which will encourage further federal spending in the following years. Many students are concerned about the drawbacks the free college education plan may pose. Natalie Woodford, a film major at the Alpharetta campus said, “College education should not be free, but it should be more affordable.”
“Making college free will decrease the value of a college degree,” said Deyera Baker Jones, a business major at the Alpharetta campus. Allowing everyone to attain an undergraduate degree does not necessarily mean the public will become more educated. Rather, this may persuade companies to raise the standards of their job requirements, forcing applicants to jump through several hoops just to qualify as potential candidates.
While many countries such as Finland and Germany have eliminated mandatory college tuition from the equation, NPR acknowledges “[they] are both below the OECD [Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development] average” when it comes to the number of students successfully obtaining a university degree. In Finland, only 40 percent of students graduate with a degree, and in Germany, the figure falls to 30 percent. The United States hovers around 45 percent of graduating students which is far behind the three leading nations: Canada (58 percent), Japan (58 percent), and South Korea (67 percent) – all of whom require students to pay college tuition as well.
How can the United States bridge this gap? By correcting certain aspects of our financial plan.
Business administration major Thalya Salazar at the Dunwoody campus said, “I believe education at public colleges and universities in the U.S. should be free or highly subsidized (nearly free) with stipends for living expenses available for all people below a certain economic threshold … The reason is that I see an investment in citizen’s higher education as one that pays off in the long term economic growth and prosperity for an entire nation. It encourages innovation and competition while steadily raising living standards over time.”
Improving the university educational system will take a lot more than just easing the costs. “Constituents [should let] their representatives in Congress know their concerns and how they’d like the federal government to take action, stopping the bi-partisan gridlock and start making reformation efforts now … by studying the models of other systems abroad – trying out their successes and avoiding their failures,” said Salazar.