How we can make college ‘free’ for everyone

Apr 26, 2016 by

By Kristin Tate –

Bernie Sanders is loved – no, worshiped – by my 20-something-year-old friends. Millennials love the 74-year-old, disheveled socialist, because he’s brimming with passion and lively rhetoric. He’s also kind of cute (in a crazy uncle kind of way), and he’s promising young voters something they want: Free stuff. Most outrageously, perhaps, free college.

Bernie wants the government to pay 100 percent of every student’s tuition. It’s easy to understand the allure of his plan: Most private colleges cost over $30,000 per year, and the average graduate walks away with more than $27,000 in student debt.

Ninety-five percent of students borrow money to pay for college, and most borrow money from the government. The feds fund more than 70 percent of all student aid. Many students can qualify for everything they need to fund their education, no matter how high the tuition. The effect? Colleges continue to raise their prices, because students will always be able to find the means to finance it with money from Uncle Sam. Put simply: The government takes away any incentive for colleges to compete with each other on the basis of price.

Making college “free” will only make things even worse for millennials, who will largely get stuck with the debt used to pay for this ridiculous spending spree once they start working.

Here are some ways that everyone can get free (or at least greatly reduced) tuition without bankrupting the federal government:

1) Have the military pay for it.

Serving our country is a patriotic way to attend college free-of-charge. The military has multiple programs available — like Tuition Assistance and the GI Bill — which allows its members to fund up to 100 percent of their tuition. There are also Reserve Officers’ Training Corps programs, which can help reduce the cost of secondary education dramatically.

2) Go to a trade school

Want to make real money? Go to a trade school. It’s more affordable than a typical four-year bachelor’s degree, and graduates leave with a real skill. One of the hottest careers today is underwater welding — experienced employees can make over $100,000 annually in this field. Plumbers and electricians also do well, and these careers will never be off-shored to India.

3) Seek out student-corporation partnerships.

If a private corporation believes a student is a valuable asset, they may be incentivized to pay for his or her college tuition on the understanding that the student will work for the company upon graduation.

Many large corporations are having difficulty finding employees with the skills they need in today’s economy. Some companies will pick up the full or partial cost of their employees’ college education. And it’s not just the big, high-tech companies anymore. Even Starbucks provides free online education to thousands of its employees, including both full- and part-time workers. Corporate America has learned that having an educated workforce is good for business.

4) Pursue private scholarships and loans.

There are tens of thousands of private scholarships available for students of all kinds, offered every year by companies, non-profits, rotary clubs, and even churches and synagogues. Some of these scholarships go unclaimed each year because no one even applies for them. Many students don’t want to work for scholarship opportunities (often they will require writing an essay, for example), because it’s easier to cover their tuition with government loans.

There is also an entire industry of people who lend money to bright students on the understanding that they will pay it back. And we’re not just talking about banks; loans can come from private individuals willing to extend loans for almost anything. Borrowers need to do their research — the opportunities are abundant.

5) Take advantage of college endowments.

Every university wants a diverse student body, so they have an incentive to make it possible for poor students to attend. All of the Ivy League universities — and many other universities, including Stanford — currently provide free tuition for students whose families make under a certain amount of income. These kinds of programs would be expanded if the government stopped throwing so much money at colleges in the form of unlimited student loans; universities would be forced to spend their endowments more wisely instead of blowing them on things like plasma TVs for dorm rooms, five-star dining halls and state of the art gyms.

6) Don’t go to college right away — work for a few years.

Yes, the idea of taking two years off to work before college sounds depressing to some. But gaining experience in the real world allows students to enter college with some money in the bank and a more practical view of their futures. Many colleges admire students who have left a full-time paycheck to pursue their education, and may reward that dedication with additional scholarships.

Here’s the bottom line: Government needs to get out of the college business.

No one deserves “free” college. When students aren’t forced to pay or work for their education, they don’t worry about the return on their investment. This is why we currently have an army of “educated” idiots with degrees in subjects like Transgender Studies and Puppetry (a real major proudly offered by the University of Connecticut) — all of whom are shocked when they can’t find a job in the real world.

So here’s a memo to all of my young friends who are “feeling the Bern”: There’s no such thing as a free lunch. Or free college.

Source: How we can make college ‘free’ for everyone | Washington Examiner

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.