Editorial: State colleges should be free

Maeve Reiter, Reporter

By: Maeve Reiter

For a highly developed country with some of the highest esteemed educational institutions in the world, it would be reasonable to believe that the United States would have a very high percentage of college graduates. However, only 59% of American adults have a college degree, according to a 2015 US census

State-owned colleges should be free.

Bernie Sanders, a senator from Vermont and a 2020 presidential candidate, said in a speech, “If we are to have the best-educated workforce in the world, we need to rethink what public education is,” according to an article by the Washington Post. In today’s fast-moving society, having a college-level education provides people with more opportunities for work. Without one, higher education such as medical or law school cannot be pursued. This immediately cuts off a percentage of the population from ever being able to obtain jobs in higher paying careers.

Having a low income and not being able to afford college leads to a lower income job, which then produces less money, continuing the cycle. One main reason for the low rates of college education in the US is students’ financial situations. 

A study from the Institute for Higher Education Policy (IHEP) said, “Since 1986, tuition and fees have increased at nearly five times the rate of inflation, outpacing income growth.” These fees begin to add up to astronomical values, making it extremely difficult for a student to keep up with loans and debt. This daunting prospect of the weight of student loan debt (most students in the study were over $10,000 in debt) can make those who wish to attend college shy away. Free state colleges would change this fear of debt.

While community colleges are usually an affordable option for those not wishing to be in debt, they still do not provide the same level of education as a state school. 

An article from Vittana, a financial website, said, “Most community colleges are designed to provide 2 years of instruction toward an undergraduate degree. If you want a 4-year degree, however, a community college will only get you halfway there.” Community colleges are a good start to a higher education journey, but a degree from one of them limits job options greatly. If state colleges were free, those who would normally only attend community college could have access to higher degrees as well as more esteemed education.

High school students are the most important part of this discussion, as well as the most affected by it. To spread the word and learn more about this, sign this petition on freecollegenow.org.