Why Free Community College Is a Bad Idea for America
Bernie Sanders loves talking about the idea of free community college throughout his campaign. Many candidates are battling it out over student debt plans. While this sounds great in theory, there are a number of problems that he refuses to discuss.
A number of the Democratic presidential candidates are talking about free tuition for two-year colleges. When asked about how it will work, there is sudden silence, which is their typical MO.
Here’s what will really happen. If too many students show up, the school system will buckle. Schools are equipped based on limited attendance levels. They cannot accommodate all recently graduated high school seniors into the system, regardless of how much cash the federal government may provide. Students will run the risk of being left out of classes because they are already full. Additionally, it can be extremely difficult to transfer community college credits to four-year universities.
Additionally, there hasn’t been enough proof that providing students with a two-year degree will help them get jobs or help them to achieve four-year degrees.
According to the president of College Transfer Solutions, John Mullane, making college free and enrolling the students will only make the problem worse. He has pointed out that schools are already having a problem serving the students that they have. Adding more students will not help with retention or graduation rates.
The Democratic debate of December will be addressing some of the questions regarding free college. There are seven candidates that have qualified, making the debate quite interesting. Of these, it includes Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Pete Buttigieg, Amy Klobuchar, Andrew Yang, and Tom Steyer.
Quite a few of the candidates have been supportive of public colleges and universities being made available for free to at least some students.
Buttigieg has actually attacked some of the left-leaning Democratic candidates because they want to wipe out all tuition costs at public colleges and universities. He has taken a slightly different stance from Warren and Sanders, talking about free public tuition based on income. The South Bend mayor says that he wants to make promises that can be kept, which means that making it affordable for everyone simply doesn’t make sense.
Warren and Sanders say that they have good reasons for making it free for everyone – the significant amount of student loan debt that is wreaking havoc on the financial lives of millions of students. It currently tops somewhere around $1.5 trillion for all students in the United States. If free college was available, students would no longer have to rack up student loans.
Warren has spouted a plan that talks about the crisis of student loan debt being as a result of the federal government not treating higher education similar to the public school system – free and accessible to everyone.
There are other problems with providing free community college to everyone. They are talking about community college, but not trade schools. If everyone were to go to community college and get degrees, there would be a number of missing blue-collar workers in the future workforce. Some students need to attend trade schools to become plumbers, electricians, mechanics, and others – yet the Democratic candidates are silent about paying for trade schools. They are only talking about state community colleges at this point.
Mullane pointed out that community colleges serve two roles: prepare students for air entering the workforce or preparing students to earn a bachelor’s degree.
Free community college may work temporarily, but the community colleges lack the infrastructure to handle such a large number of students. Additionally, state community colleges would need a significant amount of funds in order to hire sufficient faculty and staff.
Plenty of Republicans argue that the FAFSA is available to provide funding when students need financial help. The federal government does provide help with tuition, it is up to the students to use it. Not everyone files for the FAFSA. Similarly, many of the students who have already graduated and are suffering from significant amounts of student loan debt never applied for scholarships that could have drastically reduced their debt.
Additionally, many wonder where the money is going to come from in order to provide funding for the Democratic presidential candidates’ grand plans.
Free community college is one of those campaign promises that get people excited and get them coming out to the polls. However, Sanders should know better than anyone that it’s not something he can promise. It’s expensive and it would cause a collapse of the higher education school system.