Should college be free? (Con)

Chris Miller, Reporter

The life of a student is an expensive one. As prices for food, utilities, and health insurance continue to rise, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to set aside money for school into an already tight budget, even with multiple part time jobs. It’s easy to see why many, especially Bernie Sanders, are clamoring to make college education free. However, what many people seem to forget is that nothing is ever free.

The money to pay for the myriad of programs, services, and opportunities many colleges, including our own, offer has to come from somewhere. That “free” college education wouldn’t exactly be free. Who would pay for those many expenses should college become “free?” Well, that would be the same people who pay for every other public service or social program in the United States, the taxpayers.

Taxpayer money is used to fund everything people take for granted as “free.” Kindergarten through 12th grade education provided by public school institutions isn’t free. That too is funded by taxpayer dollars via property tax. If college were to be treated the same as lower levels of education and become “free,” that would mean either a brand new tax would be created to pay for it or one or more already established taxes would rise to offset the cost.

In a 2010-2011 study, it was found that the average tuition and fees for a full-time student enrolled in a public two-year institution was $2,713 plus another $7,259 for off-campus room and board as well as another $1,113 for books and supplies. These numbers are relatively higher now due to price fluctuations and increased fee costs depending on the schools in question.

If college is so expensive, even at the two-year level, for one singular student, wouldn’t that mean that the total collective cost of tuition and other expenses for an entire institution’s student body combined be astronomically high? Since, logically, that is the case, wouldn’t it also be logical to conclude that the amount of money taxpayers, even those who are not themselves attending any form of college, would have to fork out to pay for all of these students nationwide be ludicrously high as well?

According to the same study, roughly 16% of most community college’s revenue comes from student tuition and fees. That number is even higher at a four-year school. Around 70% of a community college’s revenue comes from government grants and appropriations, which, as most know, comes out of taxpayers pocket already.

That means if college education were to become “free,” that’s a possible 16% tax hike on the nation as a whole, which could make the difference of a family of four being able to keep up house payments or not. Nothing in this world is free and no matter how you look at it, college never will be either.