Free Education

Should Education Be Free For Everyone?

Marissa Iamartino
December 07, 2019

Free Education For Everyone

Millennials are the most educated generation ever, despite the incredible cost of attending college in the United States. According to the Wall Street Journal, about 40% of Millennials between the ages of 25 and 37 have at least a bachelor’s degree - while 25% of baby boomers and 30% of Gen Xers had the same level degree at the same age. As time goes on, it seems that higher-education degrees are decreasing in value, while increasing in cost. 

Around the world, countries have found solutions to offer their citizens free education. In France, Norway, Denmark, Germany, and Sweden, college tuition is free for all national students, but here in the United States, we exist, above all, in a capitalist structure that overflows into our medical and educational systems. As early as pre-school, there is a public-private school tug-of-war that parents play when choosing school options for their children. The public school system is often looked down upon, and the mindset in the U.S. is: the more you pay, the better quality you get.

A Piece of the Educational Pie

The average amount of student loan debt for a 2016 college graduate is $37,172. Instead of offering every American citizen, a piece of the educational pie, only those born into financially stable households can consider going to college. This is something Bernie Sanders wants to fix with his plan for free education – a socialist idea that terrifies many politicians and billionaires in high power. Free education is a dream for the progressive: the people who believe in equity and innovation instead of historical wealth and reputation. Currently, our world is in dire need of innovators as we are up against global warming. Without all hands on deck, it is predicted that our largest global cities may become unbearable by 2050. In this light, perhaps we need free education. We need all kinds of minds to figure out a way to save the earth and save ourselves.

Definition of a Good Education

If America moves to tuition-free college policy, taxes, unanimously, will rise. In a study done of all 35 OCEG countries in 2014, the United States paid the 4th lowest amount of taxes. Countries that offer free healthcare and free education including Denmark, France, and Finland, are in the top four of those tax paying countries. Eliminating cost for U.S. college education would also change the definition of what a good education is, and in turn, would reconfigure our entire job market. Private schools running on endowments and tuition, in theory, would die out. The United States as a reputation-centric country: a country that views names like MIT and Columbia as the upper echelon of success would change entirely. This free education framework would mix up the pool of opportunities, and more people would go to college, equaling an even more competitive job market. If the United States adopts free education, it could fall from grace as the best place in the world to get an education, and with the number of adults over 50 still working, we could see a rise in unemployment rates. Or, the U.S. could rise as one of the greatest educational powerhouses in the world, promoting equal opportunity, collaboration, and stability.   What do you think?

 

Bibliography:

Salisbury, Ian; “This Chart Shows How Much Americans Pay in Taxes vs. The Rest of the World”, http://money.com/money/4862673/us-tax-burden-vs-oecd-countries/ 2017/07/19

Anderson, Ellen; “The Pros and Cons of Tuition-Free College”, https://www.collegeraptor.com/find-colleges/articles/affordability-college-cost/pros-constuition-free-college/ , 2019/10/11

Johnson, Holly; “How Much the Average American Pays in Interest Every Year” https://www.thesimpledollar.com/loans/blog/heres-how-much-the-average-american-pays-ininterest-each-year/, 2019/10/29

Adamy, Janet; Overburg, Paul; Millennials Approach Middle Age in Crisis https://www.wsj.com/articles/playing-catch-up-in-the-game-of-life-millennials-approachmiddle-age-in-crisis-11558290908, 2019/05/19

Hess, Abigail, “Here’s How Much the Average Student Loan Borrower Owes When They Graduate” https://www.cnbc.com/2019/05/20/how-much-the-average-student-loanborrower-owes-when-they-graduate.html, 2019/05/20

 

B.M. Brianka Morgan

The fact of the matter is, many people take out student loans with the promise of employment being available in their field of choice. But for various reasons, this ended up being completely and utterly untrue for many. Now, I know what you're thinking: "Brianka, you simply cannot guarantee that everyone would get a job in the field that they studied in." You're compl...

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The fact of the matter is, many people take out student loans with the promise of employment being available in their field of choice. But for various reasons, this ended up being completely and utterly untrue for many. Now, I know what you're thinking: "Brianka, you simply cannot guarantee that everyone would get a job in the field that they studied in." You're completely right, but that's NOT the problem. Education should be free because of key failed promises and a shifting technological culture that is quickly and unpredictably narrowing job opportunities.

The problem is that many people are making informed career choices, incurring debt while going into the education or the public sector. In the United States, those who work a decade as a teacher or government employee can have their student debts forgiven. However, according to Keven Carey, writer for the New York Times," In the 18 months after borrowers with a decade of service in government or nonprofit jobs first became eligible in 2017, 73,554 people applied to have their student loans wiped out. And 73,036 were turned down — a rejection rate of 99.3 percent." The government can't--and has not--upheld its promise to begin with while creating the allure particular job fields. They lied about a faulty product, and so education should be free and student loans should be forgiven.

In a similar vein, many people go college for better opportunities in thriving job fields. First, the jobs that many desire probably won't exist within the next 5-10 years due to automation and technological advancements. Some of these jobs include social media experts, farmers and agricultural managers, post office workers, food service employees, and manufacturing employees. This issue raises two questions: Why should people pay for a higher education when the field will no longer be viable AND when institutions of higher education should be able to predict changes in the industry? Why should people pay for a higher education for a public sector job if the job is not going to be around for the next 10 years? The answer is simple: Students should not be required pay for their education.

My final point is that employers are not willing to pay a higher wage for people who have little on-the-field experience, regardless of your academic background. This may in part have something to do with employee loyalty, However, one could argue that, again, this concern for loyalty has to do with changes in company's employing practices. 6 years ago, Forbes contributor Jacob Morgan argued that long-term employment will be a thing of the past, never to return. I can attest that nowadays is harder to obtain a permanent position as many employers are now contracting their employees. I'm supposedly investing in an education so I can gain long-term security. But if employers are looking for primarily temporary or contracted work which don't offer employment security, then why should I have to pay for my college loans? I shouldn't have had to pay for an education.

How I see it, the real issue is culture, justice and accountability. The government needs to be held accountable for making promises they couldn’t keep. Employers shouldn’t be able to have their cake and eat it to with cheap, knowledgeable, and adaptable workers. They need to pay up and take the risk. Schools and universities need to be held accountable for not aligning their curricula with the future trends of the private sector. And finally, as a culture, we need to be genuinely and sensibly open-minded as we move forward, realizing that being civically engaged can help create new markets—like how legalizing marijuana has the potential to revitalize a dying agricultural industry.


References:
https://www.investopedia.com/articles/insights/110916/economic-benefits-legalizing-weed.asp
https://www.forbes.com/sites/jacobmorgan/2014/03/20/5-reasons-why-long-term-employment-is-dead-and-never-coming-back/#c55143834e41
https://www.cheatsheet.com/money-career/jobs-that-will-be-gone-in-10-years.html/
https://www.nytimes.com/2019/07/24/upshot/student-debt-forgiveness-already-happening.html

Further Reading:
https://www.forbes.com/sites/jordanwaldrep/2019/01/03/how-cannabis-just-took-a-step-towards-legalization-in-the-us-farm-bill/#31b7fa716608

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