The time for tuition-free college is now

Stuart Pate, Staff Writer

Tuition-free education isn’t a new idea but it’s becoming a crucial idea. During the 2020 presidential campaign, Joe Biden brought forth the idea of tuition-free two-year college. This was even a provision in the “Build Back Better” bill. However, with time and negotiation the provision was removed.
There are a tremendous number of studies and statistics that create a full picture as to why it’s important to attend college. I’m not a statistician or an economist; most of what I know about money I learned from my junior high guidance counselor. He taught me that first, there is no such thing as a free lunch. However, I was fortunate enough that my parents paid for my school lunches; so, from my perspective, my frozen cheese pizza and syrup-drenched canned peaches were free. The second lesson had something to do with investing. This is a strange concept. You pay for something but you don’t get it right away. You have to wait, and eventually if you wait long enough, you get your money back and then some. It’s a strange concept yet a simple one.
Our legislature needs to think more about investing; about putting up money for a later gain. Specifically, tuition- free two-year college.
The future holds economic inequality as well as new challenges such as environmental change and all the adaptations that includes like building and maintaining electric cars. A skilled and enlightened workforce is going to be critical to survival. So, why not just cover the cost of a two-year college if it’s so necessary?
Of course, we’re talking about money. But remember that principle of investing.
An educated populace will most certainly guarantee a return on investment. Those with postsecondary education make more than those with only a high school education. Only 16% of workers with only a high school diploma earn more than half of workers who have postsecondary education, according to a study done by the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce.
It follows that the higher the paychecks the higher the tax revenue, not to mention opportunities to own houses and property increase. That means more tax revenue in income taxes and property taxes.
See what’s happening here? Return on investment.
But numbers aside, there are those who argue that free college tuition would lead to students not really caring about college. They couldn’t be more mistaken.
Even with free tuition, college is still going to be expensive. There’s the incredible cost of housing, transportation, food, books, a laptop, high speed internet, and the high cost of frappuccinos that are necessary to keep one caffeinated to study for midterms.
Schools like Madison College just don’t hand out degrees. I myself have a bachelor’s degree and now I’m attending Madison College to learn some additional skills and patch up my resume. I am working far harder as a part time student at Madison College than I did in any one semester while pursuing my bachelor’s degree.
It’s time we invest in an educated populace. At the time of publication, the tuition free two-year school provision is still absent from the “Build Back Better” bill.
Luckily, in this country, we are guaranteed a revolution every two years in the form of elections.
I encourage all Madison College students to take an active stance for free tuition and make our legislature listen.