In drawbacks of tuition-free public universities are more significant

In the United States, democratic politicians, such as Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton, have proposed ideas to make public colleges have low cost or free tuitions because they believe student debt has reached outrageous rates. As of 2016, the total amount of student loan debt in the US is a whopping $1.31 trillion (Friedman). Although these numbers may seem extreme, many people still feel the drawbacks of tuition-free public universities are more significant than the advantages. As assessed by Jeffrey J. Selingo, a journalist and author of multiple books about college students, Hillary Clinton’s plan to eliminate tuition for families with an income of less than $125,000 would not be beneficial for low-income families (Brownstein). Instead, it would do precisely as she fears by “making college free for Donald Trump’s kids” (Jackson). Selingo proposes that Clinton’s plan would convince middle-class students to apply to public instead of private universities, limiting spots for low-income families and forcing these students to use to two-year or open admission schools. To ensure that no one is paying more than they should, people who disagree need to determine a fair way for students to have access to college without overtaxing the public. Selingo is not the only opponent of the tuition-free dream. Christopher Denhart worked in Higher Education Public Policy Research with the Center for College Affordability and Productivity for seven years and is well-informed on Germany’s new tuition-free policies. Denhart describes the decrease in graduation rates in Germany as students spend more years in college due to the lack of tuition fees. If every student in Germany decides to go to school for four years instead of the average three in Europe, funds will increase by 33%. Denhart highlights that There Is No Such Thing As A Free Higher Education (TINSTAAFHE), as the title suggests, Denhart believes there is always a cost, even if it’s hidden. Someone, whether it be students, taxpayers, or the already overextended government, must pay for college (Denhart). While the taxes faced by citizens in Germany and other tuition-free countries are extreme, so is the gross debt faced by college students. Because this is a pressing issue, state universities in the US should have low cost or free tuitions so that more students can attend college. However, there is a good reason many opponents feel tuition-free public universities are not a good idea. According to Richard Kahlenberg, a noted expert on college access, making top public schools tuition-free won’t make them more likely to accept diverse students. Colleges fear falling in national rankings and they don’t want to have to pay more to help their students succeed, meaning they prefer upper-middle-class students. An example of this is California, where low-income students are more likely to attend less competitive schools than Berkeley or San Diego. To mend this issue of segregation, Hillary Clinton’s plans include state requirements to enhance racial and class diversity in public universities (Brownstein). Clinton’s tuition-free method also involves making changes to student debt rates and tuition-free eligibility gradually so as not to drastically upset the economy (Jackson). Graduality seems to be the key to success because Bernie Sanders’ opponents mock him and his completely free college ideas. Sanders’ plan would cost $70 billion, and that’s an underestimate. His legislation would force colleges to eliminate tuition and pay for students’ rent and textbooks. While this may sound nice to university students, it’s not something everyone can agree on. Sanders’ plan also calls on the federal and state government to fit the bill. Many feel Sanders is moving too fast and should first call on lawmakers to organize the current higher education budget (Weissmann). An issue many have with tuition-free colleges is that they don’t see examples of it working successfully. While taxes may be high in Germany and schools are divided in California, other areas have had success with tuition-free college. In Oregon, individual requirements, including maintaining a 2.5 GPA, make sure only serious students are attending school for free. In Arkansas, students in high-demand fields of study can attend community colleges and technical schools for free. A notable state that isn’t testing their hand at tuition-free university is Pennsylvania. This is a big deal because Pennsylvania has some of the highest student debts in the country. The class of 2015 in Pennsylvania had the second highest average student loan debts of almost $35,000. However, this is not a Pennsylvania only problem- as of 2015, 42 million students have student loan debt of $100,000 or less (Lobosco). In the US, mortgage debt is the only type of consumer debt higher than student loan debt. These unreal obligations are especially unfair as college degrees becoming required in more and more careers. Ben Jealous, a Maryland politician even said: “College is as important in the 21st century as high school was in the 20th century” (Weissmann). Therefore, should it really be more expensive to get an education than to buy a car?The next question is, how are people affording college? Many aren’t; that’s why student debt is so high. However, other US students have begun attending college in countries where it’s free like Germany. In 2015, BBC News published an article detailing the accounts of students who had decided to go to school in Germany because it’s cheaper than schools in the US. One such student, Hunter Bliss, pursues a physics degree at one of the most prestigious schools in Europe for only $120 a semester. To cover all expenses, Hunter’s mother sends him $6,000-$7,000 a year. At the University of South Carolina, the closest university to Hunter’s home, tuition alone is $10,000. Hunter’s mother is not alone in her belief that the financial advantages of sending her son to Germany are worth the fear of sending her son 4,800 miles away in a country where no one she knows lives. Mrs. Bliss is not alone in this belief as over 4,600 US students attend German universities, which a 20% increase in three years. It’s understandable why- of the students presented in the article, the most expensive total cost of rent, health insurance, semester fees including transportation, groceries, and other expenses while living in Germany were less than $700 a month.  Language barriers are also not a problem because Germany has increased the number of all-English classes. It would seem Germany is making it easier for American students to attend German colleges than American colleges are (Strasser).Alec Ross, a democratic politician and entrepreneur, believes that while college should be more affordable, increasing job opportunities is just as important. This is why plans such as Arkansas’ that allow for actual job preparation in jobs are necessary. In 2015, President Barack Obama’s plans to make community college tuition-free could have benefitted 9 million students. However, to make plans like these work, there needs to be more support for them (Lobosco). Bernie Sanders spent most of his campaign appealing to college-age students. While a good idea, it obviously was not enough. This is because Sanders’ ideas do not have a very high probability of succeeding. Something many supporters can agree on is that there is no room for paying for students’ room and board unless extreme taxes are introduced (Weissmann). What proponents and opponents seem to get wrong in the debate about college free tuition is that there has to be a consensus that either student loans or taxes are worse than the other. There is no debate, however. While statistically speaking student loans are worse, students should be able to get an education without universities putting all of the costs on taxpayers. A compromise needs to be reached because the point of tuition-free college is that no one suffers from the fees. Democratic politicians cannot expect the federal government to pay for anything and Republican politicians cannot expect the spiraling patterns of college debt to continue. This is why the government should organize and define a bigger budget devoted to colleges. There should also be more standardized specifications for school’s budgets so they are only spending money on necessities, limiting the amount the government would have to pay. Before any decisions can be made to fix outrageous tuition prices, budget plans need to be discussed to make sure colleges can still appropriately funded.