With the Presidential campaign of 2016 already in full swing, the subject of higher education and student debt will almost certainly be part of the national debate.
Before we as a nation have the student loan and higher education funding debate, it seems logical for us to first try to answer a more fundamental question: Should higher education be considered a privilege for those who get to go, or is it a right that all Americans should be provided?
Today we will discuss the arguments that support the position that higher education is a privilege, not a right.
13 Years is Enough.
As a nation we provide free education to all of our citizens for at least 13 years. During this time students acquire the basic reading, writing, and arithmetic skills to function in our society. Beyond the basics, students are exposed to a number of different careers and educated on the many options available to them as adults.
At a certain point people need to start contributing to society rather than just reaping the benefits of the hard work of others. In our laws and in our culture, we recognize 18 as the age of adulthood. By the time someone finishes high school they are equipped with the necessary skill stop decide if they want to seek immediate employment, learn a trade, or pursue further education. Should they decide to pursue further education, it is time they start bearing the responsibility for the costs.
Students enjoy the benefits of a college education — They should pay for it.
In most cases, going to college enhances your long-term earning potential. For many, it is a significant increase. While society does benefit from a better educated citizenry and stronger tax base, the true beneficiary of a college education is the individual.
People who rally against “corporate welfare” and programs designed to stimulate business growth should likewise be opposed to free college education. In both cases the argument is exactly the same. Why should taxpayers foot the bill when the individual or business can do it themselves? After all, the taxpayer benefit is very slight compared to the huge benefit to the recipient of the public funds.
We already provide adequate higher education opportunities.
College is not a privilege for the wealthy. There are a multitude of higher education programs aimed at ensuring access to a degree for those who want it. We have Pell grands and many other grants available for low-income families. Scholarships are available for high-achievers and hard-workers. And yes, student loans are in place to help people find the money for school.
Not everyone gets to go to Harvard, but making college free will not change that. Our nation has a variety of community colleges and state schools that are supported by taxpayers and more affordably priced. The fact that attending these institutions may not be easy for some misses the point. The fact is that opportunity in some form exists for all… there is no need to make college free.
Access to education has never been better.
If you have a computer and an internet connection, the college knowledge of mankind is seemingly at your fingertips. Even if you don’t have a computer or internet connection, these tools are available for free at your local library.
The number of resources online is truly staggering. Colleges like Stanford and MIT offer free classes to anyone who wants to take one. Forums exist for knowledge seekers to collaborate with fellow artists, professionals, and fellow students.
These tools are available 24/7 and most are free of charge. In light of the many existing free opportunities for further education, having taxpayers subsidize an expensive four-year education seems a bit absurd.
Be sure to check back in later this week for the argument in favor of free education.