‘Free college’ likened to ‘reverse Robin Hood’

Aug 28, 2017 by

Chris Woodward –

While they may not necessarily be responding to Bernie Sanders’ campaign mantra, many states are exploring the idea of “free college.” Oregon, however, has found out that it’s not that simple.

Last year, Oregon became one of the first states to offer “free” community college, but CNN Money reports the Beaver State is strapped for cash and cannot fully fund a program that saw high turnout. Now, eligibility requirements have been changed, disqualifying students from wealthier families.

“Paying for – quote, unquote – ‘free college’ is quite expensive, especially when it’s coming out of the pockets of taxpayers who often don’t have college degrees themselves,” responds Inez Stepman of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). “It’s sort of a ‘reverse Robin Hood’ kind of program where we’re actually paying for a more privileged class that does go to college out of the pockets of those who are making $50,000-$60,000 a year without a college degree.”

cash in handStepman made similar comments in April about New York’s plan to cover tuition for in-state students whose families are earning $125,000 or less. “Free means that it’s coming out of the pockets of taxpayers, many of whom may not be going to college,” she stated then.

Nearly two dozen states have enacted some form of free college tuition programs, and legislation has been introduced in another 13 states. They may or may not suffer the same fate as Oregon.

While she acknowledges that student debt is a problem, Stepman doesn’t think free college is a great solution. She offers two suggestions:


“We ought to look at the reasons behind why college costs are skyrocketing so much above inflation,” she tells OneNewsNow, “and what we can do to bend that cost curve back down to make college more affordable for more people rather than looking at sort of a free handout from the government.”

ALEC is in favor of other education initiatives, including the Affordable Baccalaureate Degree Act. That would require all public four-year universities in any state to offer bachelor’s degrees costing no more than $10,000, total, for the four years of tuition, fees, and books. ALEC also supports the idea of income share agreements, such as the one at Purdue University.

“In addition, we should look at how federal subsidies are propping up cost inflation at universities,” Stepman recommends. “The feds give people ‘free’ money to go to college, which they then have to pay back later at high interest rates – and the universities know that people will continue getting bigger and bigger loans underwritten by the federal government. This drives up costs astronomically and puts American students on the hook for larger and larger loans as tuition rates rise.”

Source: ‘Free college’ likened to ‘reverse Robin Hood’

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