Free College Tuition: You Get What You Pay For

The myth that all student debt can and should be eliminated, and why free tuition would hurt the American dream.

The phrase “Free college tuition for all!” has been passed around like Halloween candy for a while now.  The mainstream left has used this as a springboard in nearly all campaigning done in recent history, without really any clarification of not only how it would work, but how it would affect the common American on his bottom line.  This notion that higher education should be available for everyone is another idea that is great in theory but has several holes that the country and common Americans cannot fill.  Nor should we have to.

Colleges and universities in this country are prestigious for the education they provide to thousands of Americans and foreign students every year to help get them on track for a successful professional path. No one would really argue this is a bad thing.  However, there are plenty of people in this country who do not have the capability to go to college.  Whether that is due to financial reasons, pursuit of other fields not requiring higher education, or even just lack of desire to go.  This isn’t a bad thing either.  A college education is something to take pride in, but the left fail to see that Americans without one take pride in many other things and even put those thing higher in importance than a diploma.

Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) has called numerous times to “eliminate” all student debt.  That’s wonderful, except that it could very well be illegal under the Constitution.  The last sentence of the Fifth Amendment reads: “…nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.”  Now, this amendment has been interpreted in many ways, including that it only pertains to government seizure of land and limitations on eminent domain.  What Sen. Warren promises for students, though, can fall under this amendment.  The students who accrue these debts are doing so willingly. Why should the American people, many of whom have not pursued a college education or did not finish onet, be required to pay for something that isn’t theirs?  Therefore, it does not qualify as “public use.”  It is solely benefitting those who accrued the debt for their education. Not to mention that by allowing this, you are giving a government even more leverage over yourself.  Paying off these debts for every student would be astronomical in cost but would also dilute the “pursuit of happiness” to being nothing more than an entitlement.

Let’s say that this does happen.  All student debt is paid off, all colleges and universities are free, and anyone can get in with acceptance.  Now, a student at a university that you are paying higher taxes for so they can pursue that diploma drops out or flunks.  What compensation will the government assure you?  Answer: none.  The modern left is in the business of getting students into universities (and hopes to do so on your dime) so they can gain votes and continue to stack their elite with the college educated many of whom have degrees that are essentially useless in most professional markets.  “Well, if they flunk out or drop out, they could join the military as a form of repayment.”  That sounds great too, except that the military, even for enlistees, has high standards.  The armed forces will accept those with high school diplomas and G.E.D.s.  But, the number of those who enlist with a G.E.D. are very small.  So by sending those who drop out or flunk out of an already free system to go serve and get paid, once again by taxpayers, is illogical in and of itself.  Not to mention that you are asking those who couldn’t handle the pressures of a classroom to go into something that requires more, up to the sacrifice of their own lives.  The American military, minus times when the draft was used, thrives on a desire to be there.  A college dropout just paying back his dues, all while getting paid, would not be the ideal candidate for serving the country.

Most Democrats pursuing a 2020 run, like Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, and Pete Buttigieg, among others, vehemently disagree with the idea of economic competition.  But anyone who has taken high school economics knows that competition is key to any free-market capitalist economy.  Without competition, colleges would have an even higher number of students fill their campuses and keep the cash flowing.  All without regard for the standard of education they provide.  Now since this is available to everyone, the demand will go up, in turn making costs higher.  Without competition for students, the number of the essentially worthless degrees goes up because colleges will have much more capacity to offer them. Once again, why should the taxpayer be saddled with a student’s debt so she can pursue a degree in “lesbian dance theory”?  Higher education is already offering a great number of degrees in programs that there are very small, if not, no markets for.  This causes students to miss out on that career of grandeur they’ve built up in their heads the last four years.  Instead, they end up with debt they aren’t able to pay off.  If academia and students alike would use the same critical thinking they preach about, then they would stop offering and taking worthless programs that there is no demand for.  Learn to focus on ones that can offer rewarding careers that can easily pay off student debt, which then in turn encourages alumni to donate to their alma mater. 

This country has always persevered.  I pray it continues to.  But the promises being put out by the left that are not only illegal and fiscally irresponsible, they are also a heavy burden on the American people.  As mentioned above, the left is diluting the American dream into an American entitlement. One that many would squander without any remorse or gratitude for the common taxpayer who put them there.  People need to see that opportunities for its citizens are always there.  Some of the opportunities may be harder to obtain than others, some may be easier, but hard to obtain for the particular individual.  That does not mean that society needs to make the dream easier.  Nor does it mean everyone should receive higher education, but that they should have an opportunity to pursue it -- which they already do.  The opportunity is there for all.  Whether someone is willing to put in the work, appreciate the pursuit, relish in the achievement, and seize the opportunity is strictly up to the individual.

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