Bernie Sanders promises free college tuition for everyone if he is elected president.
This is a typical promise from a self-proclaimed socialist who wants to indoctrinate another generation with the progressive mindset that is prevalent in college classrooms.
Here are just some of the problems with this scheme.
How do you pay for it?
Old Bernie is going to “tax billionaires” to raise the needed funds. That won’t work because a Republican-controlled Congress won’t increase taxes for a new entitlement program to satisfy an unrealistic campaign promise from a socialist.
And even if Democrats gained control of Congress and passed a law for free college tuition, the mechanics of such a plan would be thorny to say the least.
Would it be limited to free tuition or would it include fees (which in some cases are as high as tuition) and room and board? And just imagine the tuition rate hikes that colleges would initiate if they knew that government would be covering their costs, no matter how high.
Would it apply to just government-funded colleges or to private universities as well? In Tulsa, you could wind up with free tuition at OSU-Tulsa, OU-Tulsa, NSU (Broken Arrow), Langston and Tulsa Community College (which already has some free tuition).
But students would have to pay tuition at Tulsa University, Oral Roberts University, Oklahoma Wesleyan University, St. Gregory’s University, Southern Nazarene University and perhaps others who have campuses in Tulsa County. That would be quite an unfair advantage for the government schools.
And speaking of fairness, about two-thirds of the adults in America don’t have a college degree. And perhaps the majority of those don’t need or want a degree. If you give free tuition to the one third who want a degree, you are forcing the other two-thirds to pay for an entitlement that will never benefit them.
Common education (kindergarten through 12th grade) is available and useful to the whole population. A college education isn’t. It targets the “elite” – which is a policy consistent with Sanders’ socialism.
Having a college education facilitates some professions but not all young people are cut out for college. That doesn’t mean they are not as intelligent as college students – a view shared by Sanders and his elitist cohorts. Some very productive people don’t have a degree, including Rush Limbaugh, Bill Gates, Scott Walker and more.
Bernie Sanders has the wrong solution for a big problem.
The problem is the declining value of a college education.
Tuition costs are skyrocketing. If Sanders’ wanted to address a real problem, he would weigh the enormous trust funds held by colleges against their rush to raise tuition. No one talks about that.
And the enormous tuition has been accompanied by the ease of government-controlled student loans.
A 17-year-old high school graduate can’t afford to go to a $25,000 a year university until financial aid workers hand him student loan papers that will let him walk out of their office with $5,000, $10,000 or more in loans.
Hey, it’s “free” money that you don’t have to pay back until you get your degree and that high-paying job.
Kick the can down the road.
That same student five or six years later gets a degree in sociology or “letters” and winds up with a telemarketing job that pays $8 an hour. Or, he keeps borrowing and gets his doctorate in some obscure field and can’t find a teaching job.
The $100,000-plus investment in a college degree results in a $25,000-a-year job. That’s a terrible return, especially when accompanied with $50,000 in debt.
That‘s a prescription for failure.
What is the answer?
First, you identify those who will benefit from a college education. For the rest, they should learn a trade, start their own business or find an employer who will let them advance as they gain experience.
The government should end its involvement in student loans. If student loans were as hard to get as regular loans, tuition would have to drop and students and their families would benefit.
Two years at a tuition-free community college while living at home is a great option.
Here another novel idea: work your way through college.
College of the Ozarks, a nondenominational Christian college in Branson, Missouri, doesn’t charge tuition. All its students work at on-campus jobs for 15 hours a week. That school won’t let students take out federal student loans and 92 percent of its students graduate debt-free (the other 8 percent leave with less than $5,000 in debt).
Oklahoma Wesleyan is working on ways to help students defray the cost of college, as are other private schools in Oklahoma. Work is part of the equation.
College should prepare you for life. Working to achieve a goal is much more valuable to your character than being handed free tuition. You will value that degree much more if you had to work for it.
Another problem with college is that there are a shrinking number of choices that don’t indoctrinate young people with secularism, liberalism and socialism. Good, moral kids go in and radical progressives come out.
If America ever offers free college tuition to everyone, we will “feel the bern’” and it will really sting.