At first glance this proposal seems like a huge break for debt accumulating college students. A reprieve from the ravenous student loan debt collectors. However, this legislation wouldn’t ease any of those debts at all. In fact, it does nothing to help existing college undergraduates or their check books. Some even think this proposal would make things harder on current students. How is this possible? As with any proposal that involves anything “free” there are costs involved. Not only would this plan raise state and Federal taxes but it would also cause an explosion in undergrad institution fees.
Not to mention the Federal government has no place in education. The 10th Amendment states that all powers not granted to the government belong to the States, and education isn’t one of the government’s powers. This plan was modeled after a similar program in Tennessee called the “Tennessee Promise” that grants scholarships to nearly all students. Ironically, when asked about Obama’s proposal, Lamar Alexander (Tennessee’s senior U.S. Senator) blatantly stated his disdain for the plan, telling reporters the government shouldn’t get involved.
Despite the tantalizing promise of free college, this proposal would overall worsen the higher education issues in the U.S. In an American Thinker article, Michael Filozof, a 15 year community college professor, states: “If community college becomes ‘free,’ it will attract even more unserious students than the ones already enrolled in community colleges.” Filozof believes that if this plan were implemented, hordes of underprepared students would flood the already clogged system and then drop out, wasting millions of dollars. These students would contribute to the roughly 7 out of every 10 community college students that fail to complete their degree every three years, according to the Department of Education.
In addition, students that are truly in fiscal need receive the Pell Grant, a government grant for underprivileged students. Instead of implementing new plans like these that are essentially welfare programs, why not focus on programs such as Running Start that require tests for placement and have high completion rates? Perhaps even provide needed support to the thousands of undergraduate students in debt that have already proved their commitment to their respective majors. Many current college students are wondering, “Where is our help?”