Many American students must take out student loans to attend higher education institutions. As a result, the national student debt is $1.6 trillion. There is always that question of whether institutions should be offering college for free or what would happen if college was free?
Currently students can receive federal financial aid and use scholarships first before resulting to student loans. This can include Free Application for Federal Student Aid where the Pell Grant and different federal loans are offered.
A grant is a type of financial aid that is provided by the government that students don’t have to pay back. Scholarships are like a grant in that it alleviates the burden to have to pay back the money borrowed or used but are usually earned or achieved.
According to the Associate Director of Financial Aid Chad Daughtery, approximately 90% of VSU students rely on some type of financial aid. The average amount of student debt for a student completing a bachelor’s degree at VSU in 2018 was $25,000. Daughtery also said the average amount of student loans for undergraduate students in the fall of 2019 is $3,550.
The state of Georgia has an overall average student debt of $28,824 with an average of 57% of students having student loan debt, according to USA Today.
The first clear benefit if college were to be free to everyone is that the overall average student debt would decrease significantly.
However, who would pay for what colleges provide as a service taxes would increase. Specifically, property taxes or increasing the tax for the wealthiest one percent of the population.
Another downside is that it can also have a negative effect with other areas that a state budget has to meet. As the state would have to find a way to fund 100% of institutions for the school to function. Considering that states have multiple budgets for things like education, healthcare and other federal programs, it could put a huge strain on those as well reducing overall quality for what can be provided by a free college.
Some benefits of college being free would be an increase in the attendance at schools or the likelihood of people who want to attend increases. It would make being accepted into college difficult as people’s desire to get a higher education for free increases. This still shows that a person has to stand out to get accepted into college.
Overall, there are advantages and disadvantages to having college offered to everyone for free. Institutions increasing tuition leads to students having to take out more amounts of money in loans. However, it is important to remember that even if something is offered for free, there is still someone who must pay for that opportunity to be free to everyone.
College is a great opportunity for people, and it must not be taken for granted. Take advantage of what is given to make the investment worthwhile.
Written by Isabella Schneider, Staff Writer. Photo courtesy of Pixabay.
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