Tuition-Free College Could Cost Less Than You Think

Paying for college seems out of reach for many Americans, so the idea of free college has broad appeal. Several Democratic presidential candidates and members of Congress have endorsed it.

But free college isn’t really free — someone has to pay for it. Eliminating tuition at all public colleges and universities would cost at least $79 billion a year, according to the most recent Department of Education data, and taxpayers would need to foot the bill.

That is a lot of money, but it is a smart and humane investment, and could be more affordable than you think. 카지노사이트

Here’s how the math works.

While college tuition is high at many private schools, median in-state tuition at four-year public universities was only $8,738 in the 2017-18 academic year.

Still, that was an increase of about $1,100, or 15 percent, since 2010 after adjusting for inflation. Tuition at public two-year colleges was $3,304 in 2017-18, and has increased by about $450, or 16 percent, inflation-adjusted, over the same period. Seventy-five percent of college students attend public institutions. And for many of them, even this tuition is too high to pay without help.

Consider, though, that in 2016 (the most recent year for which detailed expenditures are available), the federal government spent $91 billion on policies that subsidized college attendance. That is more than the $79 billion in total tuition and fee revenue for public institutions. At least some of the $91 billion could be shifted into making public institutions tuition-free.

First, about $37 billion of the federal money went toward tuition tax credits and other tax benefits, which disproportionately helped wealthier families, who were likely to send their children to college without government help. I’m not proposing that these benefits be cut — but in a financial pinch, some of this aid could be repurposed to allow for tuition-free public institutions, which would help poorer people more.

Second, $41 billion in federal spending went toward aid for low-income students and military veterans, while $13 billion subsidized interest payments on student loans while students were enrolled in college.

If tuition payments were eliminated, students at public colleges would have less need for these programs. (College costs also include room and board, books and supplies, and other living expenses, so tuition-free college would not eliminate the need for financial aid, even at public schools.) 안전한카지노사이트

In short, at least some — and perhaps all — of the cost of universal tuition-free public higher education could be defrayed by redeploying money that the government is already spending.

Some form of tuition-free college already exists or soon will be in place in 13 states, and some of this cost would not need to be duplicated to achieve universal tuition-free public college.

The existing tuition-free state programs apply almost exclusively to two-year colleges (New York’s Excelsior scholarship is an exception), and they are funded by increasingly tight state budgets, which threaten their long-term viability.

The federal government has much deeper pockets than the states do, but it mostly reduces tuition costs indirectly by providing financial aid to low-income students. The largest program is the Pell Grant, which provides a maximum award of about $6,000 per year.

Thanks to various forms of financial aid, for the neediest students, some public colleges are already tuition-free. So why not simply expand financial aid to provide larger dollar amounts to more students? The problem is that need-based aid requires a determination of eligibility, and students usually don’t know what they will pay for college until after they decide to apply.

Pell Grant aid helps low-income students attend and graduate from college, but it has little impact on the decision to enroll in the first place. Financial aid is helpful but only for low-income students who can successfully navigate the system. 카지노사이트 추천

The simple promise of zero tuition, whatever your family income, is in itself an effective nudge that is likely to attract more low-income students to college. That is unequivocally a good thing. But such a promise will also attract some wealthier students, who would go to college anyway, so reduced tuition would be just a windfall for them.

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