The debate over college affordability has been going on for decades but has not often taken center stage among the major issues in American politics. This all changed during the 2016 Democratic Presidential primary election when one of the major topics debated by the candidates was the price of higher education. Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders is well known for his stance about college affordability and believes that college should be tuition free and debt free. The main idea behind this radical proposal is that there are thousands of students across the country who are discouraged from going to a higher education institution because of the cost. Senator Sanders believes that the success of America depends on the education levels of its citizens. His ideal proposal is to make all public colleges and universities tuition free for students with the right academic achievements. He believes that there is a clear advantage for students who come from wealthier families while lower income students often cannot afford the price of college. The issue over the debate does not come from this point and most Americans would agree to support increasing the availability of higher education. The major question is if the college enrollees aren’t paying for tuition then who is? And where does that money come from?
Sara Goldrick-Rab, a writer for the New York Times is an advocate for free college tuition and argues that the current financial aid system is only available to to help half of the population that needs the funds and even those who receive the aid do not receive enough of it to really make a difference. She argues that the country is split into two by the middle and lower class and that the lower class are the ones who receive the aid due to their financial situation and the middle class does not receive it due to their financial situation and are asked to pay for the expenses because they are better off than the lower class. Due to this reason, Goldrick-Rab advocates for universal public higher education. She also argues that with a free education students focus on learning rather than working and therefore are able to spend their time studying rather than spending late nights trying to provide financially for themselves. She concedes that the main issue with this scenario is paying for it, and while she does not have a perfect solution, she argues that there are viable options that would allow for more citizens to receive their education. One of Senator Sanders proposed plans is to tax wall street in order to pay for the tuition. Many are opposed to this idea for various reasons including being against a greater tax increase on those who do not deserve it.
One of those people who disapprove of the tax plan is New York Times writer Andrew Kelly. He argues that free tuition is not actually free it just places the burden on others and sets the “tuition cap” at zero. Therefor it sets a bar for how much can be spent on each student regardless of interest because the money is all coming from federal funds. He says that with no tuition the number of applicants of each school will increase greatly and the government will be unable to cover all of the cost of the new surge of students. Plus as history has shown, the price of college rises as time goes on only making things more and more expensive with each year. He says that free tuition is a good idea in theory, but that in reality it cannot be paid for and will decrease the quality of an education.