Education is a mission. Especially, when we are speaking in terms of the higher education to bestow not only the qualification degree but also the real life skills necessary to survive in the actual world. That is why; college education should be free for all to make sure that all individuals shall have equal access to the higher education, irrespective of their financial background. Whether we are talking about the economic growth and development of a region or the nation itself, a highly educated population will always have the leverage to generate an imperative workforce. The ready for job workforce and a highly demanding consumer market are the two wheels on which the economy of a region or a country shall move forward.
When the financial burden is eliminated from the shoulders of the students, they can keep their focus simply on the studies and forge a path towards their desired career without worrying about the mounting figures of debt. When the college education is free, then it would be an ideal scenario promoting social mobility and equality. The individuals from all backgrounds can access higher education and boost their respective economic situations. In simple terms, we can say that, investing in education is all about investing in the future.
What does the Research says?
According to a study conducted by Pew Research Centre, nearly 63% of adults in the United States are in favor of providing free public college education and irrespective of the family or financial background. Out of those, there were 37% adults strongly in the favor of the said proposal.
Why College Education Should Always Be Free?
The following are some of the core reasons behind this argument are mentioned below –
• Access to Education: When college education is free, more individuals opt for that path who otherwise cannot afford the cost of high tuition fees. As the enrollment of the students in college increases, it would render them a lifetime of opportunity to attain the necessary knowledge and skills necessary to pursue the desired career path.
• Curtailing the Financial Burden: The concept of free education would eliminate the condition of financial strain on the students and their respective families. It would enable the students to simply focus on their studies to make it to a bright future instead of bothering about the financial uncertainties associated with the tuition fees.
• Economic Growth: The number of highly educated population is directly proportional to the economic development and growth story of the country. The highly educated individuals would immensely contribute in the fiscal flow of the economy.
• Promoting Social Mobility: Education is a critical aspect responsible to improve social mobility. Free college education would provide a level playing field with greater opportunities for the citizens from lower-income families. It would also uplift the families from destitution and improve the economic situation of the generations to come.
• Curtailing the Student Debt: The educational loan is one of the major debts confronted by the youth across the globe. Whether we are talking in terms of a developed economy or a developing one, reducing the financial burden on future graduates would enable them to write the growth story of the economy more fluently.
• Endorsing Equality: Education is a powerful tool to empower people with knowledge. It is a means to promote equality by bringing individuals from all backgrounds to a level playing field with equality in diversity.
• Investing in Future: The more we invest in education, the more confidently we can look towards a bright future. A highly educated and skilled workforce will always prove to be a strong backbone of the future growth of the country.
• Nurturing a Knowledge-Oriented Society: A Knowledge-oriented society is the one that always place education and learning on high priority list. Free college education is a step towards building a society that cherishes the values of lifelong learning.
• Getting a Competitive Edge: When we think in terms of today’s globalized economy, then we will find highly educated and competent workforce an integral part high pace development. That competitive workforce will always provide the decisive edge necessary to compete and thrive at the center stage.
• Attending Social Responsibility: Apart from moral and ethical responsibility, it is our social responsibility as a society to make free education accessible to all. A greater access to higher education would enable us to thrive as a society with better living standards and equal division and contribution of resources.
As you can see, the campaign for free education would indeed has a long term impact and most of that impact is highly positive. Now, let us throw some light over the merits and demerits of promoting free college education.
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Merits: Should College Education be Free?
There are various potential merits of promoting college education for free:
• Promoting Access to Education: When the college education is free, it would facilitate more individuals to attend college, which otherwise not be possible due to financial reasons. It would potentially increase the number of students to pursue for a college degree. It is always going to have a positive impact on the society.
• Reduction in Education Debt Culture: One of the major challenges faced by college graduates these days is the ever increasing burden of student loan. When the higher education is free, then it would significantly curtail the culture of students seeking out education loans to mend out the needs associated with tuition fee, hostel fee, and various other related expenses. When debt is lower, the students would feel confident and secured towards their chosen career goals.
• Growing Rate of Economy: In the contemporary world, it is the war of the economies. The countries that have a quality and skilled workforce will always have an edge. It would directly result in more scope for innovation, improved productivity meant for better domestic consumption and export and to generate new job opportunities.
• Equal and Better Opportunities: For the students with talent yet low-income backgrounds, free college education is going to offer a level playing field to compete with their affluent peers for the same opportunities and resources. This could result in greater social mobility as well as facilitating for a more equitable society.
• Improved and Skilled Workforce: While offering free education to the college students, the students from less fortunate backgrounds can even hunt for the degrees in the sectors of huge demand, including that of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics). For a country competing at the global scale, it is imperative to have a lion’s share of workforce dedicated to these sectors.
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Demerits: Why College Education Should not be Free?
As we have learnt about several arguments in favor of making college education free, let us access the other side of the coin. There can be several pertinent arguments to be made against the idea of providing college education absolutely free. Let us get a better insight into those:
• Cost: The implementation of a free college education policy would come up with its own burden of expenses. It would demand a huge funding from the taxpayers and could subsequently burden those who do not have children in the age of attending college. They would never see any sort of direct benefit in the policy.
• Quality: There is also a possibility that free college education policy may result in the decrease in the quality standards of the offered education. Colleges may unable to access the funds essential to maintain the infrastructure facilities or for hiring the best professors. It could eventually hurt the prospects of the education that students are about to receive.
• Value: If the college education is made absolutely free, it may get devalued in the eyes of the society. This perception could result in a fewer number of students actually seeing any value in pursuing and obtaining a college degree. This perception could eventually hurt the job market and in later stages, the economy as a whole.
• Alternative Ways: Not all students require a conventional college education in order to professionally succeed in their lives. There are always alternative routes available in the form of trade schools, vocational and entrepreneurship programs that can turn out to be just as relevant, if not more so, in contrast to traditional form of college education.
Equity: Offering free college education may not be able to address the root causes behind educational inequality. While it might deliver certain financial relief to some of the students, it might not be able to address other critical factors like access to good quality K-12 education, that can have a decisive impact on the ability of a student to succeed in the college life.
So in overall terms, the whole concept or idea of free college education might appear appealing, but there are some of the major drawbacks that are well required to be taken into account prior to the implementation of the same on ground.
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Implementing free college education policy on ground comes up with several benefits. Firstly, it would be a passport to equal opportunity for all students irrespective of their socioeconomic background. That would include students from impoverished families or marginalized communities with no hope or scope to afford tuition fees but aspire to access quality education.
Secondly, it would result in a significant reduction in the burden of student loan on graduates. They can place their complete focus on their dream careers and wholesomely contribute to the economy proficiently and responsibly.
Last but not the least, free college education can lead to a more aware and informed society. It can significantly reduce the income inequality and endorse social mobility. In overall sense, free college education could have positive and far-reaching impacts over the individuals as well as the society as a whole.
What Did We Learn?
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