We should eliminate college tuition

Published 12:00 pm Tuesday, December 8, 2015

By Kenendy Johnson

What if, instead of paying thousands of dollars on tuition for college, you went to an institution that charged you not one cent, and there were still scholarships for working-class students?

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What if you did not have to go through an application process? What if you did not have to sit and take standardized tests or AP classes?

What I just described may come across as an impossible, or even an imaginary dream to you, but it could actually be reality if somehow the citizens of the nation become better acquainted with why education should be free.

Education, in today’s world, is the path to the American dream. But, is it really?

Former student of the University of Mississippi, Chris Bradley, believes education should be free. Georgetown University graduate Corey Ewings does not.

Every day somewhere on a college campus, there are students who feel down and discouraged because they cannot continue to pursue their chance of obtaining their college diploma because they can not afford it.

Bradley entered the University of Mississippi in 2013. One year later, he received news that he would not be able to continue his education at the university because he did not have a parent or guardian who had a credit score for him to obtain a loan for additional funds.

Bradley had to withdraw from the university and began working at a construction site near Oxford to try and help his family come up with an outstanding balance to put toward his education. He never returned to college and said he will always wonder why the government will not increase tax rates and make all colleges free so a poor scholar can gain a good education from the top colleges.

Education is a luxury. Most residents were taught that education is the passageway out of poverty. However, those living in poverty in the United States will not be able to attend college at a university for four whole years. Where will they get the funds to pay tuition?

Not only is tuition an issue, but also most universities cannot house every single student that attends the institution, so how will that student pay bills and rent for off-campus property?

The cost of tuition has skyrocketed over the past five years. College aid has been reduced by state budgets, and two-thirds of American college students graduate with college debt. That debt now is about $1.2 trillion.

Private institution’s cost of tuition is about $32,405 per year. The average cost of tuition and fees for the 2015-2016 school year was $9,410 for state residents at public colleges, and $23,893 for out-of-state residents attending public universities. Many students’ parents or guardians do not have that type of money lying around.

Some residents believe parents should take the responsibility for educating their children on a higher level, and it’s not the state’s role.

Ewings said she does not think college should be free because some degrees that people pursue require more or less work than others and yield different results each time. Also, she strongly believes, since it is a person’s choice to go to college, it is most definitely their responsibility to pay for it.

When a college graduate has spent tens of thousands of dollars four long years to receive a college degree, has about $26,000 or more in student loans and cannot locate a job, it begins to become a burden.

Education should be treated as a public good. Every institution is guided by who gives it power – in this case “money.” When a public college receives funding from wealthy/rich parents, big donors, and corporate scholarships, it creates a likelihood to view education as an investment in the individual pursuing the higher education.

Providing free education would provide a boost for the entire economy. Once our education is fully funded by taxpayers, the nation as a whole will understand that it is truly a public good. What if the cure for cancer is in the mind of an individual who can not afford education?

It is unfortunate that intelligent citizens drop out of college because they cannot afford to take out another loan or because books are too expensive. Students juggle three and four jobs, along with being full-time students, just to stay in school. Education would not be free even if it was. We would be paying back to each of our communities.

Surprisingly, I may never live to see the day that a price tag will become detached from knowledge.

Kennedy Johnson is a journalism student at the University of Mississippi.