Student debt is a heavy burden that many worry will continue to be passed onto future generations. Liberals claim that offering tuition-free education would greatly reduce the weight of this burden, while Conservatives believe it would simply remove the burden from the students and place it on the public taxpayers. In this post, I will be discussing the liberal viewpoint. In next week’s posts, I will talk about the Conservatives beliefs and express my own opinion.
Liberal believe that tuition-free education will accomplish three main objectives. By providing tuition-free educational opportunities, we can increase the number of college graduates. Second, Liberals claim that providing tuition-free colleges will result in a better-educated workforce that the U.S. desperately needs to compete in a world-wide economy. Finally, better-educated citizens tend to be healthier, more productive, and happier people.
Many Americans are hesitant to go to college because their friends and family members are plagued by student debt they may never be able to repay. Liberals claim they have the perfect solution to this problem. According to Democrat Hillary Clinton’s plan outlined on her political website, “…every student will have the opportunity to graduate from an in-state four-year public college or university without taking on any student debt. Families with income up to $125,000 will pay no tuition at in-state public colleges and universities, which covers more than 80 percent of families. The plan will be phased in over five years, but families earning $85,000 or less will immediately be able to attend an in-state college or university without paying any tuition.” 1* The relatively immediate implications of this change are certainty appealing to students searching for a way to fund their education.
Jill Stein also sympathizes with those overwhelmed by student debt. This is why she strongly believes that we should, “abolish student debt to free a generation of Americans from debt servitude.” 2* Liberals claim that providing tuition-free colleges will increase the number of college graduates. This means we will have a better-educated workforce.
In today’s technologically-advanced world, an increasing amount of education and training is required. The United States is in desperate need of higher-quality workers with advanced degrees in STEM fields such as science, technology, engineering, and math. According to a CNN article by Patrick Gillespie, “Vacant jobs can cost companies hundreds of dollars a day in lost profits, research shows, and ultimately the job skills gap hurts America’s economic growth.” 3* Joseph Fuller, a Harvard Business School professor, states that 65% of job postings for secretaries who work for executives require a college degree. But among current executive secretaries, only 19% have college degrees. That’s a big gap between expectations and reality. 3*
Also, according to Corporate Executive Board (a research group), for every job opening, about 30 people applied on average in 2015. Of those applicants, less than 20% meet the qualifications for the job. 3* Liberals believe that providing tuition-free education opportunities will increase the number of better quality workers.
Liberals also claim that better quality workers will not only reap economic benefits but also become healthier, more productive and happier citizens. A new study from the University of Maine supports this claim: they found the citizens with postsecondary credentials not only contribute to the economic prosperity of communities but also live happier and healthier lives. 4* In a study, It’s Not Just the Money authored by Professor Phillip Trostel, finds that college graduates are nearly four times less likely than high school graduates to smoke, and are significantly more likely to exercise, wear a seat belt, maintain a healthy weight and regularly see a doctor. It is not surprising to hear then, that college graduates have a life expectancy of seven years longer than those who have a high school diploma or less.
College graduates also volunteer at a rate 2.3 times higher than those with a high school diploma or less, contributing more than three times as much to charity, and vote and participate in politics at a significantly higher level. 4* Jamie Merisotis claims, “Higher education attainment isn’t just about the money—it’s about the people, and opening up the worlds of opportunity that only education can provide. It is about enriching lives and communities, reducing crime, increasing engagement, and feeding the economy with the talent it desperately needs.” 4*
To conclude, Liberals believe providing tuition-free education will increase the number of college graduates and also narrow the skills gap that is ever widening in today’s economy. Finally, Liberals claim that college graduates enjoy many benefits including a healthier, more productive, and happier life.
1* Clinton’s Tuition-free College Plan
2* Jill Stein’s Opinions
3* We Need More Skilled Workers
4* Want to be Happier and Healthier? Go to college!