When you want to go to college or university, a significant obstacle can be paying for your tuition. In the United States, academic institutions are known for their high rates and fees, making it extraordinarily difficult to pursue higher education.
Recently, the U.S. president has stalled his plan to enact universal, free community college for U.S. students. However, certain states and schools are keen to keep free program initiatives in motion.
What Are Tuition-Free Colleges?
In the past few months, many community colleges have launched programs offering one to two years of free tuition for students. While the original plan to offer universal free tuition may still pass, students can take advantage of several other options in the meantime.
One of the most common ways you can attend college for free or at a reduced cost is through scholarships or grants. If you are particularly accomplished in a certain academic area or in athletics, you may land a scholarship to a specific American college. A few of the most elite colleges, such as the traditional Ivy League schools or U.S. military academies, accept incredibly proficient students.
If you come from a low-income background or come from an underrepresented group, you may qualify for colleges that offer free tuition for students with a significant financial need.
What Are the Advantages of Tuition-Free Colleges?
As a student, you may benefit in many ways from attending a tuition-free college.
Reducing Student Debt
The average student debt load in the U.S. is more than $35,000. Once you graduate from your academic institution, you are required to begin paying your debt back in specific increments. If you begin your professional life with a large amount of debt, you may find it difficult to afford important things. For instance, you may not be able to save for a family, a house, or a car for quite a number of years.
Breaking Out of Poverty
Attending and graduating higher academia can be significantly helpful for rising out of poverty or low-income situations. Many graduate and postgraduate degrees allow you to readily enter into a career and earn a higher income.
Leveling the Playing Field
Many people start off their lives at a disadvantage, simply because the system is waged unfairly against them. For underrepresented groups of people, receiving free education can help provide similar opportunities.
Excelling in Academics
Whether you are going to college based on merit or need, it provides you the chance to pursue what you are most passionate about. In contrast, many people who need to take out a loan or pay for college upfront opt for a degree based on its earning potential or practicality.
What Are The Disadvantages of Tuition-Free Colleges?
Free tuition also comes with its fair share of disadvantages.
Taxpayers Footing the Bill
One of the biggest reasons people do not want students to be able to attend college for free is the actual cost. After all, the money needs to come from somewhere, right? Likely, it would either fall on taxpayers, budget cuts to other programs, or both.
Affording Extra Costs
In most cases, students still need to pay for school supplies, textbooks, rent, utilities, and living expenses while going to college or university. While the tuition may be free, they may still need to work a full-time job while studying or take out a loan to afford these extra costs.
For most students, receiving the opportunity to pursue higher education free of cost is incredible. That said, there are a select few who take their education less seriously if they receive it for free. This belief may lead to dropping out or flunking out of college before completion.
Will Tuition-Free College Happen?
Whether or not a universal plan for tuition-free community college is enacted, there are many opportunities for students to attend college for free. Furthermore, since states and schools are starting to see the main benefits to free-tuition, more free-tuitions programs are likely to follow.