Social Question

Rarebear's avatar

Do you think it's a good idea to give free college to everybody?

Asked by Rarebear (25159points) May 23rd, 2016

This is another applause line, but is it realistic or even a good idea?

I am actually undecided on the issue, and if there is a debate that is on this question, whoever wins the debate will win my point of view.

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111 Answers

RedDeerGuy1's avatar

It’s just an extension of high school for three years. Brains are needed now a days. The market is saturated . Maybe we should get rid of paid free high school. So everyone has a chance to get ahead in the areas of their expertise. Ph.D.‘s are not special anymore. Maybe we can restrict secondary education or we can make a award that is higher than a ph.d. . A Post-post secondary education.

Seek's avatar

To everybody who meets minimum educational requirements and wants to do so, absolutely.

Perhaps the “free college” is two years toward a bachelor’s degree. Maybe it’s a vocational school where one could learn a trade and be ready to enter the workforce in two years. It could differ based on the student’s wishes and aptitude.

Goodness knows no one is graduating high school ready for a career anymore.

Rarebear's avatar

Seek I’m not saying it shouldn’t be affordable and that people shouldn’t go to college. But free? Even for rich kids?

johnpowell's avatar

High school is free for rich kids.

If you want me to pay for your PHD in art history you can fuck right off. But for the most part college is the new high school.

JLeslie's avatar

I’m torn. I think if we have free college then there has to be guidelines for who is eligible. I don’t want my tax money paying for a kid whose first year of college is basically repeating high school because they are so academically behind. My dad and his friends had free college, and they all had to apply and be accepted, and all had done very well in high school and testing. They were piss poor. They needed free college. There was no other way for them.

If we don’t waste money on kids who are likely to fail out, we will have more money for those who really will benefit.

I ideally want to crack down on tuition prices. I’m tired of all the talk being about student loan rates. Screw that. If they didn’t have the crazy loans in the first place it would be moot. If the tuition was more reasonable, and I feel very confident it can be, there will be less need for help from the government to pay for school, and a bigger kitty to help those truly who cannot afford it. My confidence about the tuition fees being able to be lower comes from the fact that some states still have very low tuition rates while others are astronomical.

gorillapaws's avatar

Free tuition for PUBLIC universities isn’t the same as free college for everyone. The biggest problem our economy is going to have is a generation of millennial who are so fucked with college debt that they’re not going to have any disposable income to buy any products/services. 15 years ago middle class 30-year-olds would be buying their first houses, getting decent cars, starting families, and even starting businesses. In 2016, the analogous 30-year-olds are scraping by just trying to make payments on their debt. It’s like economic blue-balls for the US consumer demand.

Free tuition allows for students to specialize in knowledge/skills that are essential in a more knowledge-based economy of this century. Educated people tend to make better citizens as well which is valuable in its own right. Furthermore, in the most impoverished areas, having the hope of a college education may keep some kids on the right path in elementary/middle/high school.

As for paying for it, Bernie said it’s possible to do by adding a tax on stock market/securities transactions. I think it’s a no-brainer investment.

Rarebear's avatar

@SavoirFaire My bad, thanks, I didn’t see it. I’ll mod my own question.

But just in case they don’t want to mod it, @gorillapaws I’m a doctor. I make a decent living. Let’s say my daughter wants to go to UC Berkeley. Should her tuition be free? I’m not sure that’s fair.

SavoirFaire's avatar

@Rarebear Three months is right on the edge for repeating a question, so it’s not a big deal. The link is there just in case the people who participated last time don’t feel like doing so again.

SecondHandStoke's avatar

Seriously.

Just how will this be free?

stanleybmanly's avatar

The Europeans do it. Free childcare, universal healthcare. The argument is that WE can’t afford such luxuries. You gotta wonder how they get away with it.

Judi's avatar

I think that if that’s where someone’s gifts are they shouldn’t be held back because of the expense.
I do think that trade training should also be an option.
Not everyone needs or can excel in a liberal arts environment but put them in a situation where they are learning practical skills that can help them advance a career and they thrive.
Another reason why it’s so sad that wood shop, automotive shop and other skills based programs in high school have been eliminated. If we’re not going to teach these skills in High School then we need to give kids an opportunity to learn them somewhere.

JLeslie's avatar

@Rarebear If the US can pay for it, I think make it free for the poor kid and the rich kid. That is the ideal situation.

I don’t trust where the government draws the line and decides a person makes a lot of money and gets no help. I see it now with Obamacare. Something like if you make $60k a year household income, that is the threshold and then you get no discount, and it will cost me $800+ a month for my husband and me. Almost $10k a year plus the deductible is $4k. That’s easily $14K a year. Why is $60k the cut off now? That’s ridiculous. That’s a huge portion of the person’s income at that salary. The guy making $200k pays the same for the same health coverage.

What if the government uses the same numbers? If the household makes $60k, now you can afford full tuition for your children. With that scenario, now there is incentive for people to make less money when their kids approach college years. That’s one of the problems with government help, sometimes it incentivizes the wrong thing. What if the parents divorce and the dad doesn’t pay child support? In that scenario is it beneficial to not legally be married?

I agree with @Judi, it should include taking classes for vocational training.

It’s much cheaper for society to have people working than on the dole, so a tax dollar spent today on education can save money later for society. It’s more complex than that, because we need to have the jobs available to fill, but jobs we import people for for like nurses and engineers, what if we could fill all those jobs with our citizens if we just paid for their education? We do this already to some extent. The government does give (or did give?) money to get people to go for the degrees that we needed in the US.

The government doesn’t do things just to be nice, it’s a business. It’s responsible for running the business well to help greater society within it’s borders to sustain itself.

LostInParadise's avatar

Education is a shared benefit. We are all better off having people who are employable and contributing to the economy rather than living off tax payer money. A high school education no longer prepares a person for employment. It makes perfectly good sense to provide free college education just as we provide free high school education.

Seek's avatar

@JL, I disagree that the benefit should be removed entirely for kids who aren’t as academically gifted. If you’re able to get a GED, you should qualify.

Some people make poor choices as teenagers, or have rough family situations, or any number of other struggles holding them back from having a pretty high school transcript.

Those kids deserve a chance to make a life for themselves, too.

JLeslie's avatar

@Seek I agree. There has to be exceptions. My thing is they have to be able to do the work. People without high school diplomas drop out for a myriad of reasons, it isn’t always that they can’t do the work. That’s why we have tests and essays and interviews for college.

We also could have a system where if someone isn’t approved at first, they pay for school, and after proving they can so it can get reimbursed or at minimum paid the rest of the way. We could even let that be a debt, not something paid up front, for that first semester. If they don’t do well, or drop out, they can pay that debt off over time.

Just ideas I’m throwing out.

Consider this, California got rid of affirmative action and quotas into their universities, because the kids let in under quota, not merit, were not making it. It was a waste for the kid, and unfair to the student who didn’t get accepted, because they weren’t a minority. My point is not about minorities, but about the right school match matters. I do admit we would be imperfect at evaluating who is qualified, and need safeties in the system.

If there is plenty of money for everyone, then fine, everyone can try. But, there is rarely plenty of money for everyone.

I don’t know how Germany works, but I know a lot of European countries track their kids. They are tracked from a younger age whether they are going on to college or not. I hate tracking at a young age. I want flexibility in the system so children aren’t pigeonholed. Germany might very well be open to anybody who wants to take a college course. I’d be interested to know more about their system. In my ideal world, people can take a college course whenever they want to for free. Learning is always good.

I think part of the problem in the US is the mantra “a college degree is like a high school diploma 50 years ago.” No it’s not. Sure, we have more need for college degrees now because of our technological advances, but part of the reason kids need college is because their competition in the job market has a degree, but it doesn’t mean all those jobs really need a college degree. Let’s say a VP needs an administrative assistant. You would be great I’m sure at that job. I’ve been paid as high as $40k for doing an administrative job. I have my resume, you have yours. Mine says college degree. Does my degree help a lot with the work? Not necessarily. Not much.

elbanditoroso's avatar

No such thing as “free college”.

Someone pays for it. Either the student or the taxpayer.

ibstubro's avatar

Isn’t it the success of near-universal high school education that’s made the idea of free college appealing?

So, the nanny state will now deliver our needs into our 20’s?
Then what? A few years of government subsidized ‘employment indoctrination’?
What does society do with the sizable number of people that are still unwilling or unable to complete universally available college degree?

Is free college going to change the growing disparity between the Rich, and the Rest of Us?

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

I think if we make it free we will likely get what we pay for.

and it will not be “free”

My state does offer free community college. We’ll see in a few years if it works or not

SquirrelEStuff's avatar

There are plenty of free colleges online. Go into itunesU or google open course ware.
You can take free classes from Harvard, Yale, MIT, Stanford, etc.
We are not paying for the education, we are paying for the diploma.

Seek's avatar

If knowledge was all one needed to be successful, regardless of a diploma, I’d be a working archaeologist.

SquirrelEStuff's avatar

@seek

But then our current system means that one can possibly be successful with just a diploma, regardless of knowledge. Isn’t this system more flawed than if it was reversed?

SavoirFaire's avatar

@SecondHandStoke @elbanditoroso Everybody knows that nothing is free. When people say “free college,” they are referring to the plan to eliminate tuition and fund higher education via state and federal subsidies. I suspect you both knew all of this, however, and chose to complain about nothing anyways. (In fact, I know that @elbanditoroso already knew all of this because I explicitly told him so on the previous question. This is basically a copy/paste of my previous answer to him.) Complaining about the word “free” is a silly rhetorical dance.

If either of you are genuinely interested in how the program is supposed to be paid for, here is a link to a summary of the Sanders plan. For those who don’t like links, here is what the file says about paying for the tuition subsidies:

Fully Paid for by Imposing a Robin Hood Tax on Wall Street.
This legislation is offset by imposing a Wall Street speculation fee on investment houses, hedge funds, and other speculators of 0.5% on stock trades (50 cents for every $100 worth of stock), a 0.1% fee on bonds, and a 0.005% fee on derivatives. It has been estimated that this provision could raise hundreds of billions a year which could be used not only to make tuition free at public colleges and universities in this country, it could also be used to create millions of jobs and rebuild the middle class of this country.

Again, this is just a summary of the full plan. I don’t think a copy of the proposed legislation is available at this time.

cazzie's avatar

Not everybody. I knew plenty of kids in high school that were a waste of space and I imagine university would have even more if it was suddenly expected of everyone. I think the key words aren’t ‘everyone ’ or ‘University ’. Trade schools, apprenticeships, colleges, they should all have intake programs where it is free and on merit and no board of investors making a profit. Right now the system is set up in many instances where the person trying to get an education is screwed two ways. The financial way universities and places of higher learning are set up costs too much and the cost of the loans are too high. It’s like your Health care in the US. Over inflated prices for what you get because capitalism and banks and insurance companies are involved.

SavoirFaire's avatar

@cazzie Just to be clear, potential students would still need to get admitted on their own merits. It’s only after they had passed through the admissions process that they would get their tuition subsidized. I completely agree about expanding the program to vocational education, though. We focus way too much on the four-year college model in the US.

cazzie's avatar

Just to be clear, I live in a country where higher education is free.

Rarebear's avatar

Since this is a debate to convince me, I want to be clear of my current point of view. I think that college should be affordable, with subsidies based upon merit and income. Poorer people should be allowed the opportunity to go to college for free or very cheap.

My issue is with rich people. Take the billionaire Wall Street executives which the Sanders supporters so loathe. Should their children be given free college education? It seems to me that “free college for everybody” ends up being a subsidy for rich people.

Don’t get me wrong, if Sanders were elected, and he were to wave his magic wand and give my daughter $250,000 for college I would not turn it down. I’m not an idiot.

stanleybmanly's avatar

If you step back and look at it, something is decidedly fkd up. If any academically qualified French kid can obtain a degree from the Sorbonne for free, why is it that in the richest nation on earth, an American kid acquires a degree and $80,000 in debt?

elbanditoroso's avatar

@stanleybmanly – the french pay much higher taxes – some people as much as 75%.

TANSTAAFL

canidmajor's avatar

The rich kids will mostly still be buying their way into private or out-of-state schools. There is still the feeling, among the wealthy, that with very few exceptions, the state universities, in one’s home state, are somehow “lesser” than state schools in another state. There is still the sense that “they had to let the kid in, he won’t be accepted anywhere else.” So, the chances are still pretty good that the rich kids will be paying.
These feelings are obviously not absolute, but are prevalent amongst the wealthy.

cazzie's avatar

Rarebear, can you not comfort yourself knowing that the rich person, having been taxed properly under a revised, more fair tax system, is paying much more in tax to help send more people to University? The rich kids can’t help who their parents are no more than the poor kids. and not all rich kids are given a free ride by their parents.

rojo's avatar

Two things,

First, I think “free college” is a misnomer. It is not free, it was never imagined as being “free”; iit just means providing the monetary resources necessary to educate members of our society by not funding something else; an adjustment of priorities if you will.
Which is more productive, giving a man a fish, teaching a man to fish or providing 24/7 military protection of the man’s superiors on a worldwide basis by funding a massively wasteful military/industrial complex?

Second, college is not the correct answer for everyone. College should be a continuation of education for those who are so inclined toward it and who will benefit society by having the the additional mental stimulation. We have reached the point where those who went to college are given greater deference in society for doing so whether or not any actual learning was acquired thus making attendance of a college all but mandatory for success in society. Fundamental changes to our way society views the craftsman, machinist and others who work with their hands is needed. Giving equal weight to the skills and knowledge gained in trade schools or apprenticeships would go a long way toward bringing about these changes and providing them to our young with funding equal to that given to the college bound should be included in any “free college” programs put forth.

Rarebear's avatar

@cazzie Sure. That’s a good argument
@rojo Nobody is talking about mandatory college. Just free college.

Rarebear's avatar

@canidmajor Not necessarily. I live in California, and the University of California is the greatest public university system in the world. I know plenty of rich kids who are going to UC.

DoNotKnowMuch's avatar

^ Do you have an issue with rich people sending their kids to public school for K-12?

DoNotKnowMuch's avatar

^ Then maybe you could elaborate on your resistance to 13 – 16?

rojo's avatar

@Rarebear not sure where/why you thought I was talking about mandatory college. I was expressing my view toward free college.

Rarebear's avatar

@rojo My mistake, apologies. I misunderstood.

@DoNotKnowMuch Because of the cost. I don’t know where you live, but here in California there are three levels of state schools. There are 2 year community colleges which are relatively cheap. Then there is a State university system, such as San Diego State, San Jose State, San Francisco State. These are more expensive. Then there is the high level University of California, such as UC Berkeley, UCLA, etc. These are even more expensive.

So is all of that free? Is just tuition covered or does it cover housing, books and food? Is it the responsibility of a taxpayer in, say, South Dakota to help pay for a Silicon Valley CEO’s son who lives in a 4 million dollar home to go to the UC Santa Barbara undergraduate music program?

Again, it seems to me to be a good applause line, but it is where the nitty meets the gritty that bothers me.

DoNotKnowMuch's avatar

@Rarebear: “Is it the responsibility of a taxpayer in, say, South Dakota to help pay for a Silicon Valley CEO’s son who lives in a 4 million dollar home to go to the UC Santa Barbara undergraduate music program?”

@Rarebear – Have you even heard of Sander’s proposal? You could start with visiting Sander’s site, or check out @SavoirFaire‘s comment above. This isn’t taxpayer-funded, as in income or property taxes. It’s a tax on Wall Street speculation.

Rarebear's avatar

@DoNotKnowMuch Okay, fine. So the Wall street banker pays for the millionaire’s son to go to the UCSB music program?

canidmajor's avatar

Maybe in California, @Rarebear. Not so much in the North East. I noticed when I lived in the west that there were many fewer private colleges and universities, so the state schools tended to be of better quality. Here there is still a lot of the attitude that I described above. Kids tend to go out of state. Of course, the states are so little here that there’s not really a distance issue. :-)

Rarebear's avatar

@DoNotKnowMuch And again, is it just tuition? Or is it all expenses?

Rarebear's avatar

@DoNotKnowMuch Oh, wait. One more question. Let’s say the millionaire’s son wants to go to the University of Michigan. Is that paid for?

CWOTUS's avatar

Considering how badly educated, fragile of psyche, intolerant of fact and other opinions some of the college denizens are proving to be these days, I’m thinking that we should generally close more colleges instead of making them more widely available.

DoNotKnowMuch's avatar

@Rarebear: ”@DoNotKnowMuch And again, is it just tuition? Or is it all expenses?”

tuition at public colleges and universities

@Rarebear: ”@DoNotKnowMuch Oh, wait. One more question. Let’s say the millionaire’s son wants to go to the University of Michigan. Is that paid for?”

That millionaire’s son’s tuition at University of Michigan would be “free”.

Seek's avatar

Yes, RB.

There are many times fewer millionaires than not-millionaires. It will wash out.

Yes, housing and books should be included. I want people in school on taxpayer money able to put their full focus into their education. Split focus is split results. They don’t need experience in bartending while they’re trying to become an ophthalmologist.

RocketGuy's avatar

[jumping in late]
@Rarebear and I attended public high school, and in our Political Science class, we studied Lester C. Thurow. One statement that stuck in my mind was: “Those who have 3rd World skills will earn 3rd World wages.” So training our young people ought to result in them earning more $ (and hence pay more taxes). That concept has worked in our cases. He and I attended various UC’s around Calif., gained impressive skills, and got well-paying jobs. The taxes we have paid since graduating are in the 20x range of what our education had cost. So if the Fed and State had paid for our college education, they would have made the money back pretty quickly. => the concept of “free” college can work.

But that’s hard to generalize. How much do Philosophy or Art History majors make? Might not be cost effective from a $ point of view.

And running a college is expensive: not only the instructor costs, but also labs and facilities, as well as extra curricular (e.g. sports). BusinessWeek recently attributed increasing college costs to increasingly expensive administrative staff. How would the govt. payments to the college be divided?

So having Fed/State pay for college would be a very complicated endeavor. Would it be easier to keep the current system, but have more financial aid available? Would it be feasible to divert income tax towards paying off student loans? That would work for people with well-paying careers, since they are paying a lot of taxes already. People who want to study lower-paying subjects would have to attend cheaper colleges, though if they were wise.

DoNotKnowMuch's avatar

@RocketGuy: “So having Fed/State pay for college would be a very complicated endeavor.”

@Rarebear is specifically asking about Sander’s plan for tuition-free public colleges and universities, that is to be funded via a tax on Wall Street speculation.

RocketGuy's avatar

@DoNotKnowMuch – that would be like finances for Calif: a large percentage funded by capital gains taxes. There would be huge boom and bust cycles. Colleges would have to build up big cash reserves to accommodate.

Rarebear's avatar

@RocketGuy Is correct. It’s very easy to say “tax wall street speculation” but what if there is a bust cycle? Money dries up and becomes scarce. What happens then? Again, it’s easy to make Wall Street the enemy and the deep pockets. Makes for good applause lines. But when you have a huge benefit arising from a relatively small group of people, what happens when that small group of people’s money dries up? It just doesn’t make economic sense to me. Rocketguy’s proposals seem much more sensible to me.

DoNotKnowMuch's avatar

^ Don’t get me wrong – I think we should tax the wealthy at a much higher percentage and make your expensive universities tuition-free. But you specifically asked about Sanders’ plan, and you didn’t even know what vague details he had shared on the matter.

I think there are legitimate financial details that can be discussed here re: his plan. But I just wanted to point out that you weren’t sure if his “tuition-free public colleges and universities” “paid for by tax on wall street speculation” plan had specified tuition or whether or not it meant increases in income tax.

Rarebear's avatar

@DoNotKnowMuch I stated that I am undecided on the issue, and I was look for this thread to help me decide. Don’t get me wrong, Rocketguy and I would stand to have a HUGE (apologies to Mr. Trump) financial benefit if somehow this were passed. I share RG’s concerns though on having such a huge benefit rely on the income source of a very few.

stanleybmanly's avatar

@elbanditoroso that’s the problem. It is true that the French pay higher taxes. But it’s really a trick with semantics, because we over here are stupid! All you need do to get the point is view things like child care, health care and education for what they are—necessities. They are as vital to the society as roads and bridges. Once you see these supposedly elective options for what they are, it is crystal clear that we are getting the shit taxed out of us. But the reason that ours is a truly sinister and regressive scheme is that it is all set up to enhance the transfer of wealth. In our system, that college degree has been monetized. That 80,000 that French society collectively contributes to educate a kid is lumped onto the back of an American kid with the profit in interest going to the bank which takes absolutely no risk in lending the money. The banks like the insurance companies are the parasites in the middle raking off money from those forced to play. And if the victims run out on the debt, the bank collects from the rest of us (the government). It’s disgaraceful!

dappled_leaves's avatar

For those who are arguing tuition vs. expenses, etc., I’ll post a little information about what I experience as a Canadian student. I pay tuition, although it is very, very low compared to American tuition costs. The undergraduate tuition at my university for residents of the province is about $1400 per year (that’s under $1100 USD). I get a tax deduction for tuition and for university expenses. It’s a little complicated, but I guess it amounts to about 20% of my tuition, plus a few hundred dollars for expenses per year. One receipt is issued by the university for tuition and to show status (part time or full time), and the rest is a simple $/hour calculation.

BUT, I can only claim that deduction against income tax. So, if I owe no income tax, I can’t claim the deduction. What I can do if I owe no income tax (and let’s face it, as a student, that’s most years) is defer the deduction until I do earn enough income to claim it. That’s an incentive for me to work in Canada after graduation. Further, this is repeated at the provincial level, which is an incentive for me to work in my province after graduation.

In my opinion, the system is more complicated than it needs to be, and varies too widely between provinces and between schools. It’s difficult for students to adjust to paying steeper fees for switching provinces, even though we are all told that we are more marketable if we do so between degrees. I don’t mind the idea of providing incentives for students to stay and work locally (preventing the “brain drain”), but it works against students who want to remain in academia (maybe others, too – but this is where my experience is), because only those who can afford it will get the varied experience that institutions want for higher degrees and for academic jobs. But also – I would never have been able to afford university if I were an American and my parents were at the same socio-economic level. Never. I will have a PhD by the end of this year.

In other words, although I’m grateful for what we have, I would vastly prefer an education system that is funded at the national level. It makes more sense from the student’s point of view, and it would also prevent the wild fluctuations in funding that occur at the provincial level, which would be a long conversation to go into, but is rather relevant in my province, where austerity cuts are being fought by student protesters, which disrupts everyone’s lives.

Also, I’m disappointed in everyone who is judging degrees in the arts as having no value (and I’m a scientist). Not everyone goes to university is doing so in order to make the most money they can possibly make. That’s not what university is for.

Rarebear's avatar

@dappled_leaves I agree with your last statement. A physician colleague of mine got a degree in history.

dappled_leaves's avatar

@RocketGuy “And running a college is expensive: not only the instructor costs, but also labs and facilities, as well as extra curricular (e.g. sports). ”

I don’t know how different this is between the US and Canada, but here, the labs are paid for by the researchers. All labour and materials come from the PI’s research grant, and a regular overhead payment goes to the university for the space, again from the research grant.

flo's avatar

It dépends what they’ll be studying

JLeslie's avatar

Also, what about the poor kid who is brilliant and gets accepted to MIT or Harvard? He gets no help from the government under this new system? Just help with state schools. My dad went to graduate school at Wharton on the government dime.

@canidmajor Plenty of “rich” kids go to state schools. What is rich anyway? How rich is defined varies so much. Right now, I’m pretty sure an average middle class family would be considered rich by the government in terms of needing help. Not only not needing financial help with college, but as I mentioned not needing help with healthcare costs.

SavoirFaire's avatar

@cazzie I know where you live. I was pointing out that the complaint you made wouldn’t apply to the current proposal that we are discussing in the US (while also agreeing with a different point that you made).

MrGrimm888's avatar

Stupid question. Would be a great idea. To an extent. I. E. 2 yr college free… Top 3 funded projects in US should b free health care, free education, and decent infrastructure. What’s wrong with healthy, smart citizens with safe roads? Military spending could be a ‘dreaded ’ 4th for this country. That’s crazy though.

Rarebear's avatar

If you thought the question was so stupid and presumably beneath your intelligence level why did you answer?

flo's avatar

Not if you’re going to end up even considering voting for Trump, edited: or were considering voting for Carson.

MrGrimm888's avatar

Didn’t mean it was beneath me rarebear. It’s just stupid those things I mentioned aren’t important to the government or its people. ..

Rarebear's avatar

No, you said it was a “stupid question”, basically insulting me but I will let it go. Do you think millionaires who have sent their kids to exclusive private schools should have access to the same free college that more normal income people should have?

stanleybmanly's avatar

@Rarebear the rich have access to the public schools already. Though most millionaires probably don’t bother with them.

Rarebear's avatar

Yes I realize that. My question is not about access it is about cost. Should the rich be able to send their kids to public university like the University of Michigan for free?

JLeslie's avatar

@stanleybmanly People with money absolutely go to public universities. How much money/wealth are we talking about anyway? If you’re talking about status, schools like Michigan, UVA, U of California, Wisconsin, just to name a few are very well respected, sometimes called public ivy schools.

My university, Michigan state, has one of the best packaging engineering programs in the country. Same with the hospitality program (Cornell is said to be the best). Believe me, many rich kids in Michigan who want engineering degrees do go to Michigan public universities. Many Ohio kids go to Ohio state, etc.

stanleybmanly's avatar

The rich should of course have access to state schools or any other publicly financed entity or service. I mean can you argue that rich folks should be retricted from the public roads or libraries?

dappled_leaves's avatar

@Rarebear “Do you think millionaires who have sent their kids to exclusive private schools should have access to the same free college that more normal income people should have?”

Of course. Why not? They would be contributing more money via their taxes; why on earth should they be denied access?

Are you actually against the rich having access to a universal education system? If so, why? And if not, why do you keep bringing up this specific point?

Rarebear's avatar

@dappled, where did I say I was opposed? I am just asking a question and engendering debate.

dappled_leaves's avatar

@Rarebear You didn’t specifically say that you were opposed – that’s why I asked whether you are. But you seem to be asking this question of people you are already disagreeing with, which implies that you may be opposed.

So… are you opposed? Can you talk about where this question of yours comes from? Because I don’t understand how it could be a concern.

Rarebear's avatar

I believe I wrote that I am undecided on the issue and that the debate on the question would shape my thoughts on the matter

dappled_leaves's avatar

@Rarebear That would be a “No, I won’t tell you” then. Okey dokey. It remains a mystery to me.

Soubresaut's avatar

If the concept is to have free college, then yes—it shouldn’t matter what the parents make, the kids should be able to attend for free.

If it’s about making college “affordable” for everyone, that seems like a different discussion, one that isn’t solved with a simple “free or not free” option… and probably simply the parents’ income isn’t enough… factors like where the parents live, and the number of kids they have, would be factors towards affordability as well…

Rarebear's avatar

Dappled. No need to be nasty. I am on my phone and my response is pretty complex. Waiting until I get to a computer.

dappled_leaves's avatar

@Rarebear Absolutely nothing nasty in my question or the follow ups. I’m trying to understand why you keep asking the question. This is sincere curiosity at work. Please don’t accuse me of having emotions I’m not actually having.

Rarebear's avatar

Fair enough. My apologies.

MrGrimm888's avatar

I apologize rarebear. I meant no disrespect. And yes , although they can afford it or better , EVERY person who pays taxes in USA should have access to free education, health care, and safe infrastructure. Even if rich.

Rarebear's avatar

Okay, at a computer.
Frankly, this question was asked a week ago, and I got really busy in the ICU at work and forgot about it. It got resurrected by @MrGrimm888, so I responded.

In principle, I am in favor of universal free public education. I worry about how to pay for it. Sanders’ wants to pay for it (if I have it right) as a tax on Wall Street hedge funds or something like that. My problem with that is that it’s relying on a relatively small group of people. What if the hedge fund industry collapses? It doesn’t seem wise to me.

My other problem with universal public college education is that it turns into a subsidy for the rich. Additionally there was a recent study that was outlined in the NY Times that showed that the increase in education costs was more to do with increases in adminstrative costs, and not necessarily public funding cuts.

So what would I recommend if I could wave my magic wand? Decrease college costs by dramatically cutting administrative costs. Increase teacher salaries. Decrease administrator salaries. Markedly increase need based scholarships so people of low and middle income can attend college. The rich can do what they do and get whatever academic or athletic scholarships they can apply, and if they can’t, then their rich parents can pay for college.

MrGrimm888's avatar

Wasn’t trying to pull off a scab. I’m new to fluther and I felt the need to relate my feeling of defeat the ‘system ’ gives me. I don’t have much hope for human kind. The fact that there is even a debate over educational needs is sad. I thank u for bringing it up. It wasn’t a stupid question. But it should be is what I meant. I suppose I wish Healthcare and education were included in our rights…We have the money as a country I feel . But we waste too much of it with ‘well intended’ military quagmires that seem to keep us in a cycle of war and economic downfall…

Rarebear's avatar

Dude, we’re good. Don’t worry about it. I agree with you

gorillapaws's avatar

@Rarebear “Do you think millionaires who have sent their kids to exclusive private schools should have access to the same free college that more normal income people should have?”

Do you think they should have access to free K-12? Serious question.

IMO, they should have access to free tuition at public universities if they want it for the same reasons they should have it K-12. I think others may have stated the case earlier, but let me lay it out.

1. There is an inherent benefit for something to be universally available without a lot of bureaucracy involved in deciding who does/doesn’t qualify. Those standards could change from administration-to-admistration, year-to-year, etc. Having a universal standard keeps things simple which is a non-trivial benefit.

2. Not all “rich kids” are going to be supported by their parents. 18-year-olds are considered adults in this country. Generally we don’t have laws that assume x because a relative does y. We don’t arrest kids when their parents commit crimes for example. In theory we should all have the same baseline opportunities.

3. Under a Sanders administration, those millionaire parents would be paying a lot more than they are, and billionaire who make most of their income from investments could see an even bigger hit. Overall it would probably be a net gain in a big way.

4. Ultimately even if there are some percent of kids who have parents that are too wealthy for them to qualify for financial aid, but would get a free ride under a Sanders plan, and attend public universities instead of private ones, I suspect that percent is reasonably small. For one thing, wealthy families usually have fewer children, and in many cases the kids of the top 1% will be going to ivy league schools (or abroad) anyways.

The benefits far outweigh the costs, and any “waste” that comes from the small fraction of wealthy kids that get free tuition would be more than compensated for on the aggregate from returning to a more progressive tax structure.

Rarebear's avatar

I would be better with the idea if the costs were spread out. I was told earlier in this thread that the costs wouldn’t come from General tax increases but from taxes on hedge funds. That’s what bothers me. In a good market everything willl be okay. But a poor one the money could dry up and what then?

Seek's avatar

Then they figure it out and the money comes from somewhere else. It’s not like we don’t have the ability to find the money for maintaining a giant field of unused, rusting fighter jets or something.

gorillapaws's avatar

@Rarebear We’re about to spend $1 trillion (with a “T”) on modernizing our nuclear weapons program. We’re willing to spend large amounts of money for projects. Also I believe the funding from hedge funds was derived from a per transaction cost. I don’t believe the quantity of transactions decreases in a bear market.

stanleybmanly's avatar

The problem I have with this question as with many questions at fluther is in the way it is worded. “give free college to everybody” is the wrong perspective, and the word “give” is always the weapon brandished in the conservative war against the fabled ever encroaching initiative stifling nanny state (the public sector). When it comes to a college education, the question isn’t whether or not it’s a good idea to provide freeloaders a college degree at public expense. The REAL question is whether or not all of us are better off in an educated society, and if so, is it in the best interest of us collevtively to maximize the opportunities for its achievement?

It’s irritating that in the decades since Reagan so much milage has accrued in the war against the public sector. The argument that “big government is the problem” has become quite fashionable for one simple and basic reason, and that reason is paralleled in so many other arguments in this country on key issues that it would be a good idea to confront it for what it is. In the end the arguments for a “free” college education are EXACTLY the same rationale as the rationale for free public grade and high schools. The thing worthy of critical note is that there formerly was a time when we collectively were capable of recognizing this, and amazed the world by demonstrating the great utility and enormous benefit to ALL OF US.

JLeslie's avatar

@Rarebear You wrote: So what would I recommend if I could wave my magic wand? Decrease college costs by dramatically cutting administrative costs. Increase teacher salaries. Decrease administrator salaries. Markedly increase need based scholarships so people of low and middle income can attend college. The rich can do what they do and get whatever academic or athletic scholarships they can apply, and if they can’t, then their rich parents can pay for college.

I agree with the basic principle there, which is, reduce tuition through reducing costs. I think someone needs to really look at why tuition fees have increased so much, outpacing almost every type of service or good sold. Some universities are still very reasonable, which to me means it can be done.

I’m not sure I want all parts of administration paid less, and all professors paid more, I’d have to look at the numbers. No matter what, whether we fund it as a national program, or if we pay tuition directly out of our pocket, we should clean up the expenses of running the university. If we are paying too much we are. It doesn’t matter if we pay it in a tax or in a fee. This is exactly what I say about healthcare too.

I agree with you that thing the funds to hedge funds carries risk. It’s probably better to have more than one source for funding.

The state lotteries sometimes give winners an incredible amount of money. It seems to me they could cap the amount to not exceed $50million, so if there is any surplus it goes to higher education. Currently, what money the lotteries do make for the state go only to K-12 I think.

Seek's avatar

How much could we save if we obliterated college athletics entirely? Let them spinoff and do whatthefuckever as a private enterprise (of course they’d have to, you know, pay their athletes, but that shouldn’t be much of a burden).

Then maybe the schools could be competitive based on their, I dunno, education standards.

JLeslie's avatar

@Seek I was under the impression athletics like football bring money to the universities. That’s it’s a net gain.

Seek's avatar

@JLeslie – that is a myth

gorillapaws's avatar

@Rarebear Just to clarify, I do agree that universities need to get a handle on their admin costs, which is a huge culprit in the increase of college tuition (at least that’s my understanding).

JLeslie's avatar

@Seek Well, holy shit, that’s eye opening and disturbing. Thanks for the link.

stanleybmanly's avatar

I wonder if college expenses would have galloped up at so frenetic a pace minus the enablement provided by easily acquired student loans.

Rarebear's avatar

I worded the question exactly how I wanted to, with the intent of getting a little emotion into the debate.

I really appreciate everybody taking the time to answer. My point of view has shifted.

Seek's avatar

@stanleybmanly – Then you have a case of higher education being limited to those whose families can pay full price.

cazzie's avatar

I was told scholarships were my only chance to attend a regular university. There just weren’t enough and I wasn’t as academically outstanding as many in my class. My parents were retired and too old to afford it all. I chose a trade school and travel instead of university. I’m sitting here with free university a possibility before me and I’m hesitant. I think I’ve lost mind because I think I’m too old. But am I? Is any one too old for FREE university?

Seek's avatar

@cazzie No. No they are not.

Judi's avatar

At least Phil Knight paid for this Locker Room

JLeslie's avatar

@stanleybmanly I too blame higher tuitions partly on student loans.

@cazzie Never too late. I know many people who got their undergraduate degrees in their 40’s, even 50’s.

stanleybmanly's avatar

@Seek I’m not so sure that’s the case. I’d bet that rising costs are probably more about the availability of all that ready money much more than the inflation of expenses necessitated the loans. And the clue is that expenses for anything involving college from textbooks to dorm expenses exploded with the enactment of the program. But the great revelation on the student loan program comes with a look at the revenues realized by its most strident proponents, college bigwigs and the banks. A sleepy and ill informed public failed to notice that unlike the GI bill wherein the government financed the advanced education of a generation of men, the student loan program amounts to a massive wave of forced indebtedness on the part of participants. But more significant than the debt is that unlike the GI bill there is the necessity
Of inserting the banks between the victims and the money. This is the REAL difference between America in the 50s and what we have today. When people scream about entitlement programs and government waste, the literally tens of billions of dollars that are handed to the banks AT NO RISK escape comment.

dappled_leaves's avatar

@Rarebear Thanks for coming back and expanding on this. I think universal free public education through university is a good idea, too. I don’t like the idea of planning to source it from one specified tax target. That seems a bit nutty to me, to the point that I wonder if Sanders has been misunderstood on this point (I haven’t done the research, and don’t intend to – I spend too damn much time thinking about American politics as it is).

I also don’t like the idea of saying that if people make an income above X, they should pay Y to send their kids to school. I don’t think that’s the way we should think about it, partly because I hate the nickel and dime accounting approach that some people take to taxation and benefits. We can fund Planned Parenthood, but not abortions. We can provide food stamps, but they can’t be used to buy toilet paper. Although I think that some rules are a good idea, it always seems that what we end up with is a system that is petty and punitive.

But mainly, I don’t like it because it isn’t fair. If it’s to be a universal benefit, that means everyone should be able to by definition. Like I said earlier, it’s not like they’re not paying into the system. They will pay more than most. But this should come from the pool that is made up of all corporate and income tax, not from one specific tax source.

There is one way in which the rich would take a disproportionate benefit from universal public university education. Their children are already primed to attend university. Kids from poorer families may have grown up believing that university was unattainable, and that will have had an effect on what they think they can or should achieve scholastically. But this would be a short-term imbalance – and, frankly, it’s one of the reasons that free university education is an important thing to offer. It is an equalizer. That’s basically everything that progressives push for: ways to level the playing field, to make people more free to do what they want to do, what they’re capable of.

And sure, of course universities should cut administrative costs. We (and this is a collective we – Canada, US, Europe) hear this constantly, but what happens in practice is that budgets are cut, low-level administrative staff (who are already overworked) are cut, libraries are cut, and somehow the university president’s salary and golden parachute are doubled and five new provost positions are created. The people who run universities are not academics, they’re business executives. They are in charge of allocating the funds; what do you think is going to happen?

To me, this is the hardest thing to achieve, because if you want to make changes, they have to be directed and enforced from outside the university. That means having a body that governs the way universities operate, and creates more consistencies between institutions. (Good luck with that. For the moment, the differences between universities are their greatest source of pride.) National funding might actually force this to happen, though probably not quickly.

jca's avatar

I have another theory on why colleges are so expensive, although I agree with the above @dappled_leaves wrote about cutting staff and leaving the fat at the top. I think college and universities are so expensive because they know they can be. Parents are going to scramble to pay 300k for their kid’s degree because without one, the kid’s chances are almost nil in the working world. Even if it means taking out loans and the kid or the parents taking decades to pay off, they’ll do it. It’s supply and demand. Everyone needs a degree, there are means to pay it no matter what the cost, so people will come up with the funds.

Rarebear's avatar

Hey @dappled_leaves Sorry for the delay.
I’m going to perhaps unfairly cherry pick your answer and challenge it a bit. You wrote:

“There is one way in which the rich would take a disproportionate benefit from universal public university education. Their children are already primed to attend university. Kids from poorer families may have grown up believing that university was unattainable, and that will have had an effect on what they think they can or should achieve scholastically. But this would be a short-term imbalance – and, frankly, it’s one of the reasons that free university education is an important thing to offer. It is an equalizer. That’s basically everything that progressives push for: ways to level the playing field, to make people more free to do what they want to do, what they’re capable of.”

I would argue that since more well off are more likely to send their kids to college ANYWAY, and they can afford it why give it away to them for free? And I write this as someone who would HUGE benefit from this. I have put away a large amount of money for my daughter’s college education. I can afford wherever she wants to go. But I’m more than happy to plunk that chunk of change in my retirement account if the government gives me a handout. But I don’t think I deserve that handout; there are other who deserve it more than I do.

dappled_leaves's avatar

@Rarebear I don’t think there’s a way for us to come to a resolution of this difference in opinion. If you are paying more into the system than someone who can’t afford to, effectively you are paying for an education while that person is not. I don’t know why you would consider it unfair for you to effectively withdraw what you have deposited. You have said that you feel this way multiple times, but I am no closer to understanding why.

Under the Canadian system, your saved “chunk of change” would not be as large – you would pay higher taxes. But your daughter’s tuition would be something like $5,000, not the $300,000 someone quoted above. That’s a win for both of you, and why shouldn’t it be? The aim is not to equalize everyone’s assets, but to equalize everyone’s opportunity.

Also, I strongly dislike attaching the word “deserve” to social programs. It sounds like there’s a moral judgment involved, which there should not be.

JLeslie's avatar

@jca But, if the loans weren’t available, some of those parents couldn’t afford the tuition and maybe the prices would not have gone up so much.

The availability of money can definitely raise prices. That’s what happened with the housing market. That’s what created that bubble that finally popped.

Rarebear's avatar

@dappled thanks for taking the time to answer. I do appreciate it. I have more arguments and we can continue if you like but I agree that we are at a rhetorical impass.

dappled_leaves's avatar

@Rarebear Perhaps. In any case, I’ve left my dueling pistol at the cleaners, so it’s not the best time.

Rarebear's avatar

@dappled_leaves I’m a retired fencer, so I prefer swords anyway.

dappled_leaves's avatar

Ah! I always wanted to learn fencing.

longgone's avatar

[Mod says] Moved to Social with OP’s permission.

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