Is Free Tuition a Must for the USA?


Over the years, college tuition costs have gone up at an exponential rate. According to a report from CNBC, costs increased by roughly 25.3% at private colleges and about 29.8% at public colleges.

Students pay for college to cover their tuition and other college services that are useful to them. Lots of students use loans to pay for their costs. This results in rising college debt that can take years to pay off. As a result, multiple states in America have introduced programs that help students get on the right path. 

Free tuition means students apply for college through a program and they do not have to pay any money for their tuition. Free tuition gives students more freedom to explore different majors that they might like, helps boost our current American economy, and it improves enrollment numbers in students of color and Hispanics. Free tuition programs like the Nevada Promise will reduce the risk of students going into debt. 

Given that students can switch majors if they choose to do so, free tuition can help students find the right career path for their futures. Selecting a college major is an important step in building a start-up career after college. 

Some students start college as exploring and undeclared majors so that they can have more time to look at what they like and what they do not like. 

According to a study from the Economics of Education Review, major switching is common, with 37% of graduates finishing in a different major than the one they started in. Students usually have a preference for their desired major. This implies that those who switch majors may end up having a better time understanding the curriculum given to them.

Free tuition can help build more jobs because our economy is dependent on many industries in the United States. 

College helps students develop skills that are necessary for the professional work field; however, David Deming from the Harvard Kennedy school makes it clear that “students and their families may not be able to afford college.” Deming also adds the economic impacts of these policies “should not just be measured in terms of increased attendance, but also persistence and degree completion.”

College is important because it helps students get the jobs that they want to support the economy. The evidence suggests that free tuition is a big piece to help boost our current economy.

Since college allows incoming students of color and Hispanics a chance to explore different career paths in the work field, states should reach out to other people of color and ethnicities to come to college with free tuition. 

Research from the Campaign for Free College Tuition shows that Promise programs increased initial college enrollment of Black males by 47%, Black females by 51%, Hispanic males by 40%, and Hispanic females by 52%. UNLV has been ranked in the top five among colleges where students are most likely to encounter other students from racial or ethnic groups different from their own. 

Colleges need a range of diverse students if they want to succeed in the long run. Since the enrollment numbers have gone up in these studies, our colleges should encourage students of different races and ethnicities to enroll with free tuition.

Some want to keep college costs as they are in America. According to Ohio University professor Richard Vedder, 47% of community college enrollees drop out of school, far more than the 27% who graduate.

Vedder also states there could be some unfairness to free tuition. He gives an example that compares two students: one that performs better academically while paying for college in full each semester, and one that is going into college with free tuition as a marginalized student.

In a normal world, students would usually pay the costs with scholarships and grants. The Nevada Promise is available in CSN, Western Nevada College, Great Basin College, and Truckee Meadows Community College.

Trey White is a freshman at CSN under the Nevada Promise. “I was always afraid to pay off my education with my own money, so this scholarship really helped me out,” Trey said. “I feel more comfortable hanging out with my Intervarsity buddies knowing I can not only support myself, but my friends too.”

Other than the Nevada Promise, Nevada’s designated free tuition scholarship, the state of Tennessee has a similar program called the Tennessee Promise. According to Hieu Nguyen, free tuition programs typically have less rigorous academic requirements. 

The unfairness issue can get to some students primarily because of their different financial statuses. College costs should not become a discrimination factor when deciding who should be eligible for free tuition.

Free tuition is the key to granting new students diversity, accessibility, and new jobs. The Nevada Promise scholarship is one part of the growing trends to keep our students out of debt. 

If our state government does not address the growing rate of college costs, then the declining trends of job growth and enrollment will continue. The exponential rate of college tuition costs can only go down if new students enroll with free tuition.

This article was submitted by a student who is not affiliated with the newspaper as part of an assignment for a class. This article was reviewed by the Scarlet and Gray staff, and approved for publishing.


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