I Am a College Student and I Am Against Free College

By on January 11, 2017

As a freshman attending a private university, I know firsthand just how expensive a higher education can be. Textbooks, room and board, refilling meal plans, plane, bus or train tickets to and from school, missing work to pick up your son or daughter from the university they chose to attend that is four hours away from your home. The cost of sending someone to college is actually even higher than the outrageous price tag placed on a higher education.
But, I don’t want free college. If public college was made “free” in the same way that public K-12 schools are today, the tax burden on American taxpayers would skyrocket. Some sources say that the cost of providing free public college nationally would be around $70 billion per year. A college education is valuable, that is why there is a price tag on it. Why should we give it away? As we can see with healthcare in nations such as Canada, when it is provided by the government as “free” to citizens, it is often very low quality. People sit in emergency rooms for days waiting to be looked at. Think you might’ve torn your ACL and you need to schedule an MRI? Depending on where you live in Canada, the wait time could be as long as 10 months. But hey, it’s free. Isn’t that all that matters? Not when it comes to a higher education (or healthcare in my opinion, but that is another topic for another day).
In addition to the economic issues that are associated with providing free college, we must consider the idea that college is not an entitlement. It is a privilege. As a high honor roll student that took eight AP courses during my time in high school, I can proudly say that I earned academic scholarships from several schools due to my grades and hard work. I know that you can make college more affordable for yourself if you work hard in high school. Giving away free money to students that sleep through class would make a student’s achievements worth less, and would discourage future students from working hard in high school because, what’s the point?
I appreciate my college education and I do my best at school. Although I earned academic scholarships, college is still a financial burden for my family. I am expected to maintain a certain GPA if I want to keep the scholarship I received at my university, and it can be stressful. I am held to high expectations by not only myself, but also the university and my family. This not only teaches work ethic, but it also prepares me for the workforce where job opportunities and promotions are only awarded by working hard. They are not handed out. These skills would be lost in a world of free college.
On a final note, I would like to point out that I strongly believe in making college affordable to low-income families that work hard to do well in high school. Hard work should be awarded, regardless of race or income. I believe the answer lies somewhere along the lines of implementing more programs that would allow for bright, aspiring students from low-income backgrounds to attend college. An example of this is HEOP (Higher Education Opportunity Program) here in New York, which helps to provide a college education to economically and/or academically disadvantaged students. I have seen firsthand the effects this program has, and I firmly believe that it has a positive impact in making college more accessible to students from low-income, perhaps single-parent families that are willing to engage for their education. Although something needs to be done nationally about the inaccessibility of college to poor neighborhoods and people living in poverty, free tuition for everyone is not the answer.

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