Social Question

SergeantQueen's avatar

Should the government pay for college education?

Asked by SergeantQueen (11751points) April 4th, 2017

As asked… I want to hear your guys’ views first.

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67 Answers

ragingloli's avatar

Yes. Next question.

SergeantQueen's avatar

Why do you think that?

Tropical_Willie's avatar

Yes, I went to Community College in the 1960’s It cost $50 for registration each semester additional student activity fee of $10 for cafeteria, building maintenance and a parking lot. Class textbooks were limited in cost to $15 for each class (a lot of paperbacks). Some semesters I spent more for CliffsNotes and other study guides then the books. I got a good education and went to a University and graduate school.

ragingloli's avatar

Education is the biggest factor in ensuring the prosperity, cultural richness and progress of any nation, and humanity as a whole.
Science, Medicine, Engineering, Philosophy, Art. These are the things that define a civilisation.
Government, as the executive arm of the populace, has the responsibility and the duty to help advance all these things.
And if you want to ensure that you find and elevate the brightest minds among the people, you have to fund education and higher education for everyone, because chances are that the smartest are among the vast majority whose parents can not afford higher education by themselves, and not among the minority of silver spoon fed spoilt brats of rich people, who got to where they are through nepotism.

Joseph Fraunhofer, who discovered spectroscopy (central to the development of quantum mechanics and studying the composition of distant stars), was an orphan, who was almost killed in a building collapse, was rescued and later sponsored by the Duke of Zweibrücken.
Imagine all the unknown geniuses in thousands of years of human history, who were never discovered.
Imagine all the breakthroughs that were never made, but should have been.
Imagine all the discoveries that will never be made if you refuse to nurture those who could make them.

Darth_Algar's avatar

Yes. An educated populace is vital to a free and prosperous society.

(*I believe this should include trade schools as well.)

cazzie's avatar

Yes. Not even a hard question.

zenvelo's avatar

Yes. An educated workforce is of great benefit to society (and businesses!).

It is called “Investment in Human Capital”,

Sneki95's avatar

Of course.

Zaku's avatar

Yes. It’s for the betterment and well-being of everyone to have well-educated people, and the less money involved (in terms of excessive tuition, student loans, and corporate profits) the better for everyone. It can also be accomplished by private endowments, but when it’s done on a for-profit agenda, there are negative consequences.

Love_my_doggie's avatar

Yes, just as in every other developed country.

Americans love to make things complicated. Instead of providing free, post-secondary education, we have a crazy patchwork of private, state, and community schools, funded by a ridiculous maze of grants, scholarships, tax-deferred savings plans, and tax deductions and credits. Something so basic shouldn’t need expertise to navigate the system.

Tropical_Willie's avatar

@SergeantQueen You answered, “No.”

Why that answer? ? ?

RedDeerGuy1's avatar

No. I think that universities should be mostly eliminated for most majors ( no more billion dollars stadium’s) , and library’s should have more up to date textbooks.

cookieman's avatar

Yes to Community Colleges, State Colleges, and Trade Schools for undergraduate degrees (Associates, Bachelors).

Private colleges and universities will charge what they want.

Also, your on your own for graduate school, but I’d like to see more employers offer at least partial reimbursement.

stanleybmanly's avatar

An educated populace is in the best interest of thr country. There was a time when we had the collective since to realize that. We instituted public schooling and the rest of the world made fun of us——for a decade or so. In 2 decades we led the world in literacy, and almost immediately therafter, everything else.

snowberry's avatar

They already offer it for 70% of the high school grads in Arizona.

chyna's avatar

Yes, but I think there should be some restrictions. A certain grade point average should be kept, not a 4.0 but college shouldn’t be a free ride to go and party.
Also, if you are arrested for being drunk or under the influence of drugs, there should be some sort of penalty. Maybe sit out a semester or something like that.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

My state already does. The gov’t does not “pay” for education. We do through either taxes or other revenue streams such as state lotteries. I’d like to see everyone get a free ride through a four year institution. If you f up then you get to flip the bill yourself should you go back. The more educated everyone is the better off society becomes.

johnpowell's avatar


But not for a PhD in Art History.

I would probably baby step it. Step one is to make Community Colleges/Trade Schools free.

They do a lot of the work to train people for people that are necessary like plumbers, electricians, mechanics and so on.

I was always told that you go to college and then everything is great. Which is somewhat true but when your parents are broke and you are 15 and know that college is off the table you kinda give up (I did). But if every kid knew that they could at least learn a trade after high school they might do less stupid shit and focus more on school.

SergeantQueen's avatar

@johnpowell Do you think then that high schools should be talking about trade schools more? Should the government pay for all the tuition for trade school? I feel that a trade school would be more useful because, for example, there is a huge need for welders. Trade schools can qualify someone to be a welder without having to go to a four-year school. It seems that those types of schools offer things that are in-demand or are useful, and they teach them in a less time than career colleges.

Edit: The question about making trade schools free wasn’t for johnPowell it was for anyone who wants to answer. I saw in his answer he said that they should be free and I agree with that. I was asking to get others opinions on that.

SergeantQueen's avatar

I think that if the government should make education free for everyone, it should be free for those who are going to do a useful degree. Meaning if someone wanted to get a gender studies degree, they would pay for that themselves. The government could help out with technology/textbooks, but they should not pay for safe spaces.
I feel that making college free for everyone would allow more people to major in gender studies, or other fields that have very low value. I also think it would allow for more kids to screw around because they aren’t paying for it. I think they should be offering more grants, financial aid, and scholarships to people who can’t afford it and maybe raise the pay your parents have to be making to make more kids eligible. I know people who were just below the line to be eligible for financial aid

Darth_Algar's avatar


So who decides what is of value, and by what criteria do they decide it? Value is subjective, as the old adage goes: one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.

SergeantQueen's avatar

Value is referring to the need of people in that field. One example I used above was the extreme need for welders. That field has a high value. There isn’t a need for people with gender studies degrees, at least from what I can tell. That might change, but I feel that’s unlikely.

Darth_Algar's avatar

Do you consider sociology a valuable field? What about the law?

Sneki95's avatar

” Value is referring to the need of people in that field. One example I used above was the extreme need for welders. That field has a high value. There isn’t a need for people with gender studies degrees, at least from what I can tell. That might change, but I feel that’s unlikely.”

Such attitude towards humanities is the direct cause of societal and cultural decline we have now. I’m not going to tell you what to think, but if you select what jobs, studies, and degrees are valuable or not, don’t come and complain how “this world is falling apart”.

SergeantQueen's avatar

I was told that things like the law, police department, fire department, etc were fields that always needed people (f I was told incorrectly, let me know). Those are also fields that are helpful to society as a whole. Things like Dance therapy, gender studies, and anything of that nature don’t seem to be as helpful to society. And I won’t be paying for someone to get those degrees. If lack of those degrees cause society to fall apart, then we have bigger issues than I thought.

johnpowell's avatar

@Darth_Algar :: I just dealt with a plumber at my moms house. 200 bucks a hour. My doctor makes less. So yeah, make more plumbers so I can get a plumber cheaper.

And yeah, a sociology degree is pretty much worthless to me. Feel free to defend why I should pay to subsidize a degree in sociology. And I talk everyday with a person with a sociology degree who basically uses Excel all day and her degree is fucking worthless since she deals with ordering office supplies all day.

Darth_Algar's avatar

Trust me, I know all too well how much a plumber charges (especially when you have to call one in the middle of the night on a weekend). That wasn’t really the point though.

RedDeerGuy1's avatar

Funny YouTube video on textbook prices. link too true.

Rarebear's avatar

How would the government pay for the education? Nothing is free.

Darth_Algar's avatar

Do people who use this “nothing is free” line think they’re offering up some profound insight? Do they stand there in the store and argue with the Hormel rep that the free samples aren’t actually free? Or do they realize, like every other human being on the planet, that “free” is a relative term?

SergeantQueen's avatar

A lot of these dumb 20-year-old liberals, whose only argument to things is stupid screaming, think that free literally means free. They don’t realize that you can’t just have free college without someone paying for it. They don’t know that it’s only free because they aren’t the one paying for it. I’ve mainly heard people telling the liberals nothing is free because they honestly think that free college means it’s seriously free.

When I am referring to liberals, I am talking about the ones that made up 30 genders and always need safe spaces. Those are the ones who don’t seem to understand how the government works. I’m not referring to liberals as a whole or to the ones who can actually have a debate… Just wanted to clear that up to avoid confusion. People get upset thinking I’m talking about liberals as a whole.“Not all Liberals!!”

Rarebear's avatar

@Darth_Algar DBAD. It’s easy to say, “Government will pay for college education”. I actually agree with it. I’m asking the OP how, in their opinion, it would be paid for?

rojo's avatar

Difficult question. I suppose if you look at it like society benefits from a more educated populace then the question becomes is the benefits derived justify the additional expense?

And if you postulate that only certain people would thrive in a college environment while others would be better suited looking into hands-on trades then you have to ask whether society, which can always benefit from more electricians or mechanics of all kinds, should also pay for furthering the education of a skilled tradesman as well as a scholar.

funkdaddy's avatar

It doesn’t have to be free, just quit with the crazy “but you can get a loan” pricing schemes that are going on right now. A decent state college shouldn’t be $50k in just tuition for a 4-year degree. That is an insane rate of increase that’s been an unfortunate side effect of widespread loans (at good rates).

Tuition makes up a small piece of revenue, so if schools are turning a profit (and they are), then why should it be so expensive to go?

Essentially because they can get away with it. It’s no money down, no payments til you graduate, discount financing for a promised better future.

It’s an easy sell, but if a company was running the same racket, marketed to teenagers, they’d probably be put out of business.

Unofficial_Member's avatar

Not in over-populated country, and definitely not when the country couldn’t manage enough income for self-management. Education is important, but so is food, finance, health, shelter, and other infrastructure, and government fund is not limitless. Government can pay a portion of a student fee (if the student meets the qualification) but the rest should be the responsible of the parents of the student. Parents are the ones that should be reminded that if they can’t afford for their future kids’ education they shouldn’t think about making kids so the government won’t be burdened with the reponsibility that belongs to the parents.

LostInParadise's avatar

In terms of getting a job, a college degree is what a high school diploma used to be. There are two possibilities. Either companies believe that having a degree, any degree, makes a person more valuable to the company, or else it is an arbitrary requirement. If the first case is true, the government should fund college. If the second case is true then companies should not be allowed to preferentially hire people with degrees unrelated to what the company does.

Kropotkin's avatar

If you regard education as a public good, then the government or some other collective body should allocate the necessary resources to build and maintain the needed buildings, to train and hire the needed teachers and lecturers, and to provide all the other required equipment, books, computers, etc.

If you don’t think education is a public good, then you leave it to the private sector—in which case resources are only allocated to those who can afford to pay for an education (or burden themselves with a hefty debt.)

What people choose to learn in either case is irrelevant. It doesn’t matter if it’s civil engineering, or whether it’s ancient polynesian art. If there are people who want to learn a particular subject—all that matters is that there are enough qualified people to teach it.

People do what they prefer—“value” in the modern economic sense, means little more than a subjective satisfaction. Not you or anyone can dictate that others should value what you happen to value. Lots of everyday economic activity and work isn’t “useful” in any practical sense—it is just things that allow for a system of consumption to persist, for people to earn and spend continually.

mhd14's avatar

No. But it should be given those whose financial conditions is weak. A proper financial check should be done whether this person will be able to pay his fees or not.

Education is important and one must get it but it shouldn’t be free to those who has excess money.

Darth_Algar's avatar


How does government pay for anything? How does government pay for the roads you drive on everyday? How does government pay for the police and fire services that protect your community? How does government pay for the military that safeguards the nation? All of these things benefit you, I and the community and nation on the whole, and yet all are provided without charge at the point of usage. So how does government pay for it all?

Darth_Algar's avatar


Adding means-testing is unnecessarily burdensome and expensive. Once you tack on a bureaucracy to make sure that only people who meet a certain criteria receive a particular service then the costs of providing that service skyrocket to the point where it is simply more cost-effective to provide that service to all.

Rarebear's avatar

@Darth_Algar The government generally pays for roads because of gasoline taxes.
The government pays for police with local city sales taxes
The government pays for fire with county property taxes
The government pays for the military mostly with deficit spending (meaning there is no direct funding source)

So, I ask the question again. With a massive social spending project such as single payer health care or education for all, do you propose just increasing deficit spending? Would you be willing to pay more in taxes so that someone on the other side of the country goes to college?

rojo's avatar

As a start for funding education I propose we eliminate all retirement/pensions for members of Congress and have them participate in the Social Security Program only just like us peons. This should be made retroactive for all past members as well. The buck stops there, or is diverted into social programs.

Also, since such positions are a “public service” and should not be a career, any retirement funding should come directly from their compensation. They can contribute to their IRA’s, 401k’s and Roth accounts as they see fit and not be funded from the public teat.

Darth_Algar's avatar

@Rarebear “So, I ask the question again. With a massive social spending project such as single payer health care or education for all, do you propose just increasing deficit spending?”

Again? You never asked that question in the first place. You just asked how does the government pay for it. Same way they pay for anything else. Your mistake, however, is in assuming that it by necessity must involve more spending, when the same ends could be achieved by reallocating resources already on hand.

Rarebear's avatar

@Darth_Algar Okay, which resources would you reallocate?

ragingloli's avatar

You could start with your ultra bloated military apparatus.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

I pay for my fire service directly. Many of us live in toll road areas so we pay directly. Not to be particular but it’s not always channeled through gov’t.

Rarebear's avatar

Okay so there are two constructive ideas. First is to take away the $50,000 pension from congress. The second is to cut military spending.

(Neither option will deal with the expanding national debt but whatever)

funkdaddy's avatar

How about not making state school’s a profit center, since they are originally funded and maintained by the people anyway?

Be as selective as you want with admissions, but make tuition a break even proposition rather than adding to the assets of what’s supposed to be a public institution?

cazzie's avatar

That’s a very good idea, @funkdaddy . If you talk to faculty administrators who have to make budgets (like my professor friend in NM) it is absolutely sickening. The university’s idea of fixing cost problems is to add more middle management and administrators who are paid more than the professors but don’t know shit about the needs of a university. They are forced to take more and more remedial students and keep them there and pass them so their federal funding is steady or increases, but the remedial students are more expensive to keep because they arrive needing basic physics and math they should have learned in high school. The whole damn system is broken. They can’t be profitable but they are forced to be profitable. It’s really fundamentally wrong.

Rarebear's avatar

What should the government be responsible to pay for? Everything? Only certain majors? Sports? Administration?

rojo's avatar

Last years defense budget was, I believe, 568 billon dollars. the PLOTUS wants to add another 56 billion. So, right of the bat we do not add to the budget at all and then we take a 10% cut and that gets us 112.8 billion to use for education and social programs. At 535 congressmen that is a savings of almost 27 million just on those presently in office and not including all those presently collecting for there prior “service”. Eliminating other perks such as private barbershops, private gym, private underground train service, private cafeteria, etc should save at least another 25 million. Reduction of their salaries by 10% would bring over another 10 million a year. Yep, we can do this!

funkdaddy's avatar

@Rarebear – Here’s a financial report for the University of Texas system, which covers a number of schools.

Tuition and fees paid in to the whole system runs about 1.5 billion dollars each year for the last three years, totaling about $4.5 billion for the period covered.

In the same years, they’ve added over $6 billion to their “net position” due to growth in investments and other funding. That includes a “bad” year of 2016 where they lost $4.6 billion in their investments, so isn’t cherry picking by any means.

They are a state entity, they aren’t paid for by the government, they are part of the government. They have been put there for the good of the people, hopefully in aggregate.

They could have turned a profit without taking a dollar of tuition from the students because they’ve been granted lands that prove profitable, an endowment that proves profitable, and current funding from state and federal sources that cover a good portion of their operating costs for enormous, beautiful, campuses.

Why has in state tuition quadrupled in the last 20 years? Your argument appears to center on what seems to be a false assumption that they wouldn’t charge any more than they have to. They charge what they can, like a business.

There is no huge “where will the money come from” question because they don’t need the money that they are taking.

if any of this is wrong, I’m happy to be corrected, because it makes me angry

cazzie's avatar

Absolutely not sports.

cazzie's avatar

Cost of living expenses can be dealt with by applying for a loan programme that is state sponsored and controlled. The money is lent out on a monthly basis to cover rent and food and when you graduate, half of the loan is written off and is payable when you start working and payment amounts will be based on what you can afford to pay.

Our universities don’t have large arenas built with public money as an homage to the sports gods. Nor do we pay college athletes with cars and extra spending money and let them graduate with degrees in ‘football’. (I know a guy who lives here now who was a running back for South Carolina and he has a college degree that didn’t cost him a dime and, I’m sorry, but when I spoke to him, he’s sweet and all, but he’s not educated in any way, shape or form.) That man’s cost to tax payers for 4 years was a complete waste and he went on to the pros and could have paid off his student loans within a year)

funkdaddy's avatar

Most big colleges make millions with their football teams. The stadiums are built on ticket sales, TV deals, apparel licensing, and alumni donations (which are tax deductible). Big name coaches are the biggest expense, and highest paid state employees in many states, since the talent is paid off in trade.

The scholarship they offered your running back didn’t even cover expenses beyond those paid to the school, but the college experience was a job requirement for the next level. He probably made them money for 3 years, then had a 3 year career where he made good money in the NFL (depending on how long ago), and then had to find something completely new to do with his life if he didn’t want to go into coaching.

Assuming it was Clemson or South Carolina, they made out like madmen.

cazzie's avatar

@funkdaddy but he didn’t. He’s still as ignorant as an 8th grader, but he’s got the degree so his job prospects are better than mine… and I know shit. I drink and I know things.

rojo's avatar

@funkdaddy Thing is, I believe most football programs are not included as part of the University budget. They are considered a separate entity and while the entire system may pay for a stadium and such the funds generated by the football program go back into the football program, not into general university funds.

funkdaddy's avatar

@rojo – Athletic departments can be separate, but will still pay into the university if there is money left over. I’m not sure if “most” do or not, most small schools won’t play as many sports, but I’m not sure of the overall economics there. I do know football pays for many of the other sports, it definitely doesn’t stay with the football operations.

These are public entities, so they have to file everything publicly, I’m most familiar with UT Austin.

UT Austin Athletic Department Annual Report for 2015

Some takeaways

- the Athletic Department put between 3 and 10 million dollars into the university each year for the five years shown, not including tuition, which athletics gets to mark as an expense
– football is making between 70 and 85 million dollars each year, enough to pay for all the other sports, men’s basketball makes ~$6 million, baseball between 1 and 4 million, I don’t believe any of the other 17 programs offered are profitable
– the football program pays $4 million in student aid (usually 85 scholarships a year, tuition goes back to the school) and $13 million for coaches

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stanleybmanly's avatar

The government should finance college education for exactly the same reasons it finances primary and secondary education.

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