Free College: You Already Earned It

Cheyenne Dorsagno, Copy Editor

In the discussion of tuition-free college, one has either said “nothing is free” or was the cringing listener.

Regardless of one’s position on the subject, there are some points on which everyone should be informed to help develop one’s opinion.

It’s Possible

According to his campaign website, “Bernie Sanders will fight to make sure that every American who studies hard in school can go to college regardless of how much money their parents make and without going deeply into debt.” He outlines how he would address the issue as president.

Make tuition free at public colleges and universities. Many think this would be impossible to accomplish in America, but the University of California system offered free tuition at its schools until the 1980s. In 1965, the average tuition of a public university was $243, which would be about $1,800 today.

Stop the federal government from making a profit on student loans.

Even if Americans had to pay out of pocket, why can’t they just pay the costs? It was estimated that over the next decade, the federal government will profit from student loan programs at an estimated $110 billion.

Refinance loans at low interest rates

In America, an auto loan can have an interest rate of 2.5 percent, but college graduates pay interest rates of five to seven percent, even though they both borrow the same amount of money.

Tax Wall Street speculators

This is a $75 billion a year plan but it could be completely paid for by taxing Wall Street speculators a fraction of a percent. Some might find that unfair, but (A) American taxpayers bailed out Wall Street in 2008 and (B) people making less money pay more taxes on their income.

According to the NY Times, bankers on Wall Street lied about the value of banks’ securities, revised past financial statements, sold toxic mortgage plans, and caused millions of Americans to lose their jobs, just to name a few crimes. In response to the biggest financial crisis since the Depression, only one banker went to jail and working citizens helped Wall Street with a maximum $700 billion bailout.

Even still, the classes are taxed unequally. On average, the bottom 40 percent of Americans, comprised of the poor and middle class, pay 9.4 to 10.9 percent of their income in state and local taxes. On the other hand, the top one percent pay only 5.4 percent, according to a study from the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy.

The U.S. Has the Money but Bad Priorities

According to the Economic Policy Institute, providing higher education helps residents make more money, contribute more money in taxes in their lifetime, better compete with other countries, be more involved in the community, and strengthen the overall economy more than any alternative. Imagine all of the advantages of having a nation full of smart people. For example, necessary services by doctors and engineers, which require education, would be met more easily. These jobs are already hard to fulfill because of the time and effort schooling demands, but even more so, because of the money.

According to Forbes, the United States is collectively the wealthiest country in the world as well as the third wealthiest per person. So how can countries like Brazil, Mauritius, Finland, Sweden, and Sri Lanka have free college? Some would argue that it’s because they have a smaller population but, as a result of this, they tax less people and have less money.

Even though the United States has 59 percent more people than Brazil, it also has three times the budget. According to Nation Master, the United States has 15 times more people than Sri Lanka but 311 times the budget, and 239 times more people than Mauritius but almost 1000 times the budget.

So, instead of educating America’s people, how does the government spend its money?

According to Business Insider, the Iraq war, which is widely regarded as having been a mistake, cost $1.7 trillion. According to Forbes, the government has also spent over a billion dollars on unnecessary printing.

The government paid $120 million to dead federal employees last year and $27 million on an unsuccessful program teaching Moroccans how to make pottery, according to the Commercial Observer. $10 million was also spent on various asinine expenses such as doing the U.S. Senate’s hair, sending Joe Biden on a half a million-dollar night in Paris, posting poetry in zoos, and studying why chimpanzees throw poop.

The amount of money one has is not in correlation with their intelligence, hard work, or overall deservingness of a degree. Education fuels the economy and can better the lives of those who want to pursue it. No, nothing is free, but America doesn’t have to profit off of college students who will better the country. America has the money, the sources, and a feasible plan. Other countries with lesser means are accomplishing it and America needs to reevaluate its priorities.

Philosopher John Locke, who helped shape the Constitution, said that society should have “government with the consent of the governed.” This institution is made by the people, for the people. People seem to forget that citizens made their government in their best interests, to work for them. Don’t be afraid to demand from the government what they owe the country to better its wellbeing and properly use the money given to it.

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