Money / Politics

Free College. Say What?

free college

You can go to college for free if Senator Bernie Sanders becomes President.  So, does that mean professors will teach and conduct research for no salary?  Will administrative staff decline their paychecks out of the goodness of their hearts?  Will maintenance and grounds personnel turn charitable so students can attend free?  Of course not.  Since substantial costs must still be paid to run colleges, you the taxpayer will be sent the bill.  Or, perhaps Sanders will borrow the money and lop it on to the $22.3 trillion national debt, much of which is owed to China, and all of which must be repaid plus interest.  Sure, you’ll hear noise about “the wealthy” and “Wall Street” being sent the bill but be skeptical.

College is indeed expensive, and needlessly so according to a plethora of experts.  Like anything that is not truly a market, like medicine, there are few cost controls.  Thus, prices are high.  So many want/desire the product (college), and government, in some ways, makes matters worse by subsidizing it.  The subsidies are intended to aid the poor, but they actually fuel price increases. 

Note, in the past when government Pell grants have increased to aid those in paying tuitions, colleges have responded in kind by raising their “sticker prices” by the same or higher amounts.  Thus, the poor don’t win, and taxpayers are left picking up the tab. 

Consider housing, where most must borrow to buy.  You might recall when banks practically threw money at people to buy and remodel homes in the mid-2000s.  Prices shot through the roof.  Then, a crisis hit.  Banks reacted by making it almost impossible to get a loan from 2008-11.  And when homebuyers couldn’t get or were limited with what they could obtain for a loan, sellers had to lower prices.

It would be an interesting experiment to cut off all loans and grants for a year to every student in America.  It would be like using a sledgehammer to hang a picture on a wall, but the result of a year of pain for students nationwide would be lower prices.  It would have to be.  With so few customers (only the uber rich who don’t get aid), what else would colleges do? 

The bottom line is this: be wary of any “free” talk from political candidates.  There is no such thing.  Just as when you hear, “buy 3 tires, get one free” and then “free college”, think the same thing—gimme a break!

Jeff Szymanski works in political communications for the Association of Mature American Citizens (AMAC), a senior benefits organization with nearly 2 million members.

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Jack Thomas
1 year ago

The author is correct in pointing out that government interference will make things worse, not better. The very notion of “free college” offered by socialist Democrats like Sen. Bernie Sanders is nothing but “smoke and mirrors.” Such a policy would simply give universities a license to print money, raising its tuition rates at will, putting the cost beyond the reach of the average family —- except for the wealthy. And the burden will fall squarely on John Q. Taxpayer who will get the bill in the form of ever-increasing taxes. This is clearly unsustainable and bad policy.

1 year ago

When I went to college in the 60’s, I picked a school that had the major I wanted and was close enough to commute. I worked summers and after school and paid every penny of tuition myself. Yes, it was hard but I graduated with a degree that Allowed me to walk right into a job. People who have to get Ivy League educations in nonsensical subjects (ie women’s studies or diversity) and take on huge debt to do it have only themselves to blame. I don’t want to pay for their lack of common sense. And it also makes… Read more »

General Patton
1 year ago

Beware of the naked Socialist promising you his shirt! Bernie Sanders is a fraud.

Wayne D Peterkin
1 year ago

Obviously college will never be “free”. What Sanders and all the other Democrats support (socialist policies) will be supported by taxpayers. However, almost 50% of Americans pay no income tax at all, so it means the remainder will have to pay for any and all these freebies. Those not paying any income tax support this bs because it costs them nothing. They really couldn’t care less that others are forced to pay for it. When that percentage exceeds 50%, the nation will be lost forever, and the socialists know it. We are getting there quickly. Every single person should have… Read more »

1 year ago

Let all prices be regulated by supply and demand. Get the government out of price controlling everything and I mean every thing!

1 year ago

President George W. Bush warned the Democratic Congress 17 times in 2008 alone about the systemic consequences of financial turmoil at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac legislated by and protected by Democrats in Congress and also put forward thoughtful plans to reduce the risk that either Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac would encounter such difficulties. Unfortunately, these warnings went unheeded, even vilified and mocked by Dems and major media, as the President’s repeated attempts to reform the supervision of these entities were thwarted by the Democrat-controlled legislative maneuvering of those who emphatically denied there were problems. President Barack Obama was… Read more »

Paul W
1 year ago

Same old Dims “Santa Claus” promises. It’s been their MO for a long time. The list of these delusional promises is endless, yet there are a lot of low-info, delusional zombies that buy into this garbage. If the left enacted everything that they promised, a 100% tax rate wouldn’t come close to funding it. They know that they’re talking to a lot of people (especially 30 and younger) with the logic and common sense of a 10 year old. They play it up to the hilt.

Glenn Lego
1 year ago

Now Omar the Tentmaker wants you to pay her college bills. So she can learn more Anti America rhetoric.

1 year ago

Great, I love to study Art in Italy and France and get American college credits. Will Senator Sanders send me also the airline tickets and a stipend for my living expenses?

Denise K
1 year ago

You’re absolutely right. College prices didn’t get to be so staggering until the govt intruded in a big way in funding schools and students. There was no need to economize, so no one did. If we graphed prices next to inflation, the results would shock people – college has gone up more than any other item. But here’s another argument against “free.” In my experience, people don’t value what they get with no personal effort. When I went to Cal, many people paid their own way, with some help from parents. They demanded the most from their education, because they… Read more »

Vangie Nicklow
1 year ago

Free indoctrination for everyone. Yipppeee!

Mark Jebe
1 year ago

Since Ivy League schools cost as much as $60,000 per year, but trade schools and junior colleges cost as little as $4,000 per year, and lots of Americans don’t go beyond high school, if they go that far, it seems if we’re going to be fair to Ivy Leaguers as well as our fellow citizens we’re going to have to give the equivalent value of an Ivy League education to those who can’t get in to Ivy League schools. I propose we give everyone between 18 and 21 (inclusive) $60,000 a year to fritter away however they see fit. Welders… Read more »

Rick J.
1 year ago

Democrats have a hard time understanding, the old but true saying, “there is no free lunch.”

1 year ago

NO FREE LUNCH! Or college for that matter. Bernie Sanders is a socialist jackass. Anyone who has half a brain knows that you don’t get something for nothing. The only thing free in this world is “advice” and that usually ends up costing you.

1 year ago

Check how it’s working in other countries. These students go to college for many years since the government pays tuition and housing. And their taxpayers pay about 60% on income taxes.

1 year ago

The Dems keep all the costs vague and main street news never follows up with them. We the people, are not been served by any of these people.

1 year ago

I’m all for college, but there must be skin in the game for the folks attending college. Free is never free I am told, and that is about the only truth floating around that pertains to the Democrat Progressives running or should I say talking about being the president of the United States of America. Watching them on stage last evening made me think of a bunch of school kids running for president of their school. Good experience for sure, but really… None meet what I think is necessary for the job. Yes, I’m talking about common sense.

Nancy Lipkins
1 year ago

I had to pay for my college so everybody else can to Nothing is free

1 year ago

College is NOT for about 90% of us because 1) most available jobs DO NOT require a college degree, and 2) it’s EXPENSIVE; AND IT SHOULD BE! If it’s that important for you to go, FIGURE OUT A WAY TO PAY FOR IT! I did; my wife did; our daughter did; LOTS of us did and WORKED to pay off all our loans!

Thomas Duggan
1 year ago

I do not see any news networks discussing how and or what cost by the college are driving the tuition cost. Are professors not at work while graduates are teaching class es

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