The President recently announced his intention to get a proposal through Congress that would make two years of community college ‘free’ for students. Of course, the plan doesn’t have an actual price tag attached to it yet. I guess it may not matter because all we do know is that it would be ‘significant’ if some 9 million students across all 50 states would benefit with an average bill of close to $4,000 per child.
I am personally not for this proposal, but here are some potential thoughts on some pros and cons of creating this new type of free schooling proposition:
- Doesn’t solve the real problem: The real issue is the runaway freight train of college costs. We already have well over 50 colleges and universities that more than a 1 billion dollar endowment. And, these are supposed to be non-profit organizations, right? There’s an oxymoron if I have ever heard one.
- Will needy children actually benefit?: Most lower income applicants are already covered by Pell Grants and other financial aid, so will there really be any benefit for them?
- 18 trillion in debt: Might as well make it quick 19 trillion. We cannot afford to continue to open up the checkbook to write blank checks forever. Eventually this will catch up with us.
- Attaining a degree could be more affordable: This is a ‘could’ be the way. The theory which might work is that lower class and middle class families would have a way to get a two years for free and then transfer into a college to only have to deal with the cost of two years of school instead of four.
The cost of a four year college degree is up some 500% since 1985, which is substantially larger than the cost of regular inflation. We certainly need a well thought out long term solution as bachelor’s degrees today are the high school diplomas of yesteryear. Just remember that nothing in life is FREE, and the cost of community college will have to be paid by somebody. It just might be the next line item on your paystub!