One of the problems facing higher education in contemporary American society is the high tuition fees in public universities and colleges. By the time students are graduating, they have debts that will take decades to clear, and this aspect affects their financial wellbeing for the most part of their adult lives. In this paper, I explain my position that tuition fees in public universities and colleges should be abolished.
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One of the arguments used to justify higher student debt is that by acquiring higher education, learners increase their earning power and human capital. Consequently, the financial advantage that comes with having a higher education is a good return on investment. However, this market-based thinking is a wrong approach towards education. First, education is a public good, which should not be evaluated using market logic. The principal purpose of education is not to allow individuals to have increased lifetime incomes but to understand the world around them and offer solutions for progressive communities. Any civilized society should be in a position to offer students an enabling environment to learn in ways that accelerate imagination and invigorate creativity. Consequently, such educated students can come up with solutions to problems that affect their natural and created environments. Once students learn to offer solutions to societal problems, increased monetary rewards become an outcome of the process.
The current structuring of student’ loan repayments is punitive, and one would question the purpose of funding in the first place. For instance, as opposed to other forms of debt, student loans cannot be discharged in cases of bankruptcy. Additionally, the majority of these loans cannot be refinanced. This aspect means that if a student got a loan in the 1990s at an interest rate of 8 percent, he or she has to repay at the same rates even in the contemporary times where the rates have gone down. In addition, when an individual fails to make payments for student loans for over 9 months, he or she is deemed to have defaulted. The Education Department then pays a fortune to private debt collectors to pursue the defaulters. The money used to pay these debt collectors can be used to finance free college education in public schools.
The viability of my proposal to abolish tuition fees may be questionable. However, such approaches have worked in other countries, such as Germany, Sweden, Finland, and Denmark, and they can be realized in our society (Karay and Matthes 4). Additionally, Tennessee abolished tuition fees in 2014, and the program has been a success. Therefore, the federal government can borrow insights from places where free tuition for public colleges and universities have worked and implement the same across the country. One of the best outcomes from such a move would be the reduction of the rampant societal inequalities caused by the current system of financing college education (Perna et al. 1740). Contemporarily, students from rich families are more likely to access quality education as compared to their counterparts from poor backgrounds.
In summary, the value of education should not be evaluated using market-based logic. Students should be prepared to become responsible citizens and problem-solvers for a progressive society. Free college tuition programs have worked in other areas, and the government should follow the same strategies and come up with solutions to the current debt crisis facing university students.
Karay, Yassin, and Jan Matthes. “A Study on Effects of and Stance over Tuition Fees.” GMS Journal for Medical Education, vol. 33, no. 1, 2016, pp. 1-15.
Perna, Laura, et al. “Free College: A New and Improved State Approach to Increasing Educational Attainment?” American Behavioral Scientist, vol. 61, no. 14, pp. 1740-1756.
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