Free college for all is a bad idea


Maria Echeverry

Image by Maria Echeverry.

Have you ever had an idea that seemed perfect at the time but later turned out to have some negative consequences? One example for me was deciding to spend the night in a McDonald’s in Greece in order to save money.

After a night lying under bright lights, listening to loud techno music and having air conditioning blasted onto my blanket-less body, it was tough to find the energy to rally for the next day of sightseeing. I soon realized that It would have been worth it to pay for a hostel.

I am neither Democrat nor Republican. However, when November comes and Hillary Clinton possibly takes the highest office in America, we may face the negative consequences of a good idea.

Many Democrats have been campaigning for free public college. This sounds like a great idea in theory. Everyone should have the opportunity to pursue an education. In theory, our economy would become more efficient with the growth in individual human capital.

Unfortunately, liberal arts colleges in the United States are already struggling under the pressure of competition for students. Private schools typically do not receive much if any government funding and are driven mostly by tuition rates.

When college moves from being a luxury good, which students work for and select carefully, to a commonality, it will be hard for most consumers to justify the extra dollars spent on private school tuition each year. Public schools will be the new affordable and attractive option.

Higher education has taken a main stage in this year’s elections. Hillary Clinton released a sprawling higher education plan that revealed she would fight to make debt-free public college a reality in America.

Although her proposal is not meant to undermine private universities, it would greatly hurt enrollment at institutions like Baker. In addition to scarring private universities, it would also force public universities to increase class sizes while decreasing class offerings and relying heavily on adjunct professors. This means is that the quality of education would suffer.

Also, there is a concern that anything government-funded requires citizen money. To fund free college for all, there would surely be tax increases for all tax-paying citizens in a country already burdened with taxes and an ailing Social Security program.

I personally value the hard work I have put in to be successful and make the most of my liberal arts college experience. The thought of private schools becoming extinct due to free-for-all legislation worries me. Students should be motivated to work and save money throughout high school in order to fund their college experience and attain scholarships through academics and athletics.

A better solution for the current debt crisis is for college students to get job-transferable degrees. Goods that are valuable are never free. Just because future students may not pay for their college degree does not mean that no one will pay.