Don’t buy into tuition-free college

Tuition-free college may sound good on paper, but in reality, it would result in far more harm than good.

Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign has started conversations on many different topics, including the cost of college. On his website, Sanders proposes making college tuition-free at public schools for all students throughout the United States. He argues that this would allow many young people who cannot afford college a chance to go, and would lessen future financial difficulties for college students.

The idea of free college, while sounding good, has many significant problems attached to it. For one, Sanders’ proposal would have the government pay for the tuition of students whose families can easily afford college. Although this does not apply to most students, it would result in a substantial amount of unnecessary spending, taking money away from other programs that would benefit students in need.

In addition, Sanders’ proposal would have major unintended consequences. The most significant consequence of this would be colleges not being able to afford as many students, leading to more rejections of applications. This would mean that while those attending might have more an affordable college education, there would be less people getting a college education than there are now, the exact opposite of the intended result of the proposal.

According to Beth Arey, College and Career Coordinator, tuition-free college would cause significant logistical issues, such as how money would be distributed, as some schools and states are in better financial shape than others. Arey notes that states like Illinois can barely afford to employ school faculty already, and tuition-free college would leave such states with even less money.

Past attempts at tuition-free college back this up. According to the Fiscal Times, the City University of New York, which Sanders cites as having offered free tuition, eliminated that program in 1976 after education prices skyrocketed, with the city of New York’s education spending nearly doubling.

This is not to say that the high cost of education is not a problem. Tuition has been steadily increasing, and student debt costs have been piling up for years. However, there are much better ways to reduce the cost of college. For example, the government could encourage, through programs such as tax incentives, private donors to donate to colleges and establish scholarships. But tuition-free college would only make things worse.