Student Story: Should Colleges And Universities Be Free?

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Commentary By: Semelee Santiago, Senior, Camden Academy Charter High School, Camden, N.J.

Many students across the country face financial constraints when it comes to a college education. Since education is such a critical part of life, there are many factors why college should be free. 

Not only do the reasons for debt-free schooling provide private gain, but they also illustrate how education continues to positively affect society overall. Thankfully, the evolution of technology is making it possible to expand access to education globally. 

People who are well educated are better able to solve problems. As a result, society will advance at a faster pace. People with education can therefore better understand their society’s history and current economic conditions. As a result, they might be more likely to get involved in politics and support their country. 

As more people are willing to pursue a college degree, the number of people who are employable for high-skilled employment grows. More people would join the workforce as a result, eventually narrowing the income gap between the upper, middle, and lower classes. A larger workforce will be required, with technical advances, the population moves. 

The bulk of automation jobs are displacing low-wage employment. Automation is rapidly gaining momentum in jobs that require a lot of repetition, such as back-office work. Automation, on the other hand, is not expected to replace the entire workforce. Instead, most economies are needing a more skilled workforce, with people who have strong analytical abilities and the ability to think creatively. 

With a college education, you can learn and hone these skills. The workforce would grow if more people could attend college for free. The workforce will be more adaptable as well. When one industry falters during an economic downturn, another usually rises to take its place. Workers must then be retrained and given job-specific skills. If more people went to school and focused their studies on growing industries, the population would be better prepared to deal with economic changes.

The majority of students graduate with a significant amount of debt. In the United States, for example, the average student debt per person is $31,172. Students who graduate with debt will almost certainly continue to add to it with interest. As a result, it may take years for them to dig themselves out of debt that only seems to grow. 

In the meantime, such debt postpones purchases such as a home or a car. On the other hand, people’s ability to earn, save, and spend could be accelerated if they graduated debt-free. This contributes to the economy’s stimulation. There is more demand as consumer spending increases. Higher demand for spending translates to higher demand in the workforce or more job opportunities. This kickstarts a positive economic cycle. 

Students may avoid going to school entirely because they are afraid of getting into debt. However, if the debt were not an issue, the younger generation might be more motivated to attend school in the first place. 

Because college affordability is such a major concern for so many people, the playing field has not always been level. Although many of the world’s brightest minds come from low-income families, this should not prevent them from continuing their education. Everyone would have the opportunity to attend school if there was an equal opportunity to do so. Affordable education is a major step towards equality. 

Students can concentrate better on their studies when they are not concerned about money. Even if students have loans and financial aid, they may be concerned about how they will be able to repay them in the future. This added stress may interfere with their ability to concentrate when they are supposed to be learning. 

Many countries recognize the value of debt-free education in achieving positive outcomes. As a result, they established tuition-free universities. Germany, Austria, Finland, Czech Republic, France, and Spain provides an education that is either free for all, free for residents only, or heavily subsidized by the government for foreign exchange students.

It is time the United States joins that list.

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