No Matter Who Wins the Election Free College Will Never Be Free

12:53:00 PM

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Note: There will not be any statistics or political bias in this article. This is an opinion piece based on simple economics and logic.

Its election day, and as a college student during the 2016 election cycle I’ve heard the words “free college” tossed around more than the words “selfie” and “lit”. Unfortunately for me, those two words and that one phrase make me cringe equally. Free college is an idea that’s been brought about by Bernie Sanders and continued by Hillary Clinton among her claiming the democratic nominee. No matter your political preference, republican democrat or independent, Donald Trump, Clinton or Sanders, the idea of free college is a mirage. Without getting to deep into numbers and statistics lets go over why the idea of free college is nothing more than a farce.

The democrat and republican mascots election 2016
No matter the outcome of the election, free college will not exist. Source via DonkeyHotey
The idea of free college in a dream world is this. A student would get to pick his or her college, no matter what school, get accepted, and get a bill in the mail for $0.00. Maybe you don’t believe that. You could believe that the policy of free college is not a ticket to Hoftra University but a free ride to your local Suny or Cuny school. Well, neither of those is quite right. The idea that comes to mind when people say free college is certainly possible, but the terminology is all wrong. Free college isn’t free.

Someone is bound to pay
Some people seem to have this notion that free college just means free for everyone, all the time, forever. Free for you may not necessarily mean free for others. Professors don’t, and won’t work for free. Electricity for the building is not free, nor is the equipment and overall general upkeep of the campus. This money must come from somewhere it cannot just appear from thin air. Given this, the money could be taxed from the wealthy sure. I’ve certainly heard this idea tossed around a lot. But that wouldn’t be free college than would it. It would be free college for some, and an additional expense for others. That isn’t free, whether you agree with that method or not that is not the definition of free.

Another theory I’ve heard kicked about is the idea of an additional tax on everyone coinciding with your income. Much like how taxes currently operate. In this scenario than college is also not free. Someone is paying and even more so in this case the student is still paying for college, only now they are paying indirectly through taxes instead of tuition. Sure, this may make college cheaper for students but it will also make college an expense for those who do not currently attend. With this method, you will be paying for college until the day you die instead of until the day you pay off your loan.(which in this day and age may also be until you die).



Bernie Sanders website even says the following:

College for All: Sen. Sanders has proposed making public colleges and universities tuition-free and substantially reducing student debt, in a plan that would cost about $75 billion a year. Source: berniesanders.com

Notice those last few words, “would cost about $75 billion a year”. How can something that is free cost money? The idea of free college needs a new name; it will never be “free” college. Someone is bound to pay.

You’re already getting a break on college
If you pay around $15,000 a semester to go to college this does need not apply to you. But for the rest of who attend Suny and Cuny schools that rely on the state and not just tuition, you may not know you’re already receiving a break on college tuition. The community college that I attended for two years had a tuition for in county students of $2,400 a semester. However, what most students do not know is that the actual total cost per student per semester is closer to $10,000. So why doesn’t the student pay that roughly $7,000 gap. That is because the state covers that additional cost simply because it is a state school. That may not be free college but it is a pretty good deal in its own right.


You may agree with the politics of “free” college. Wanting someone else to pay for your college or purposing an overall tax to allow students to not pay tuition is an idea in its own. Whether that idea is right or wrong is your prerogative. This article is not to steer your political views in one way or another. Nor do I claim to know which is the best route to take in this political issue. One thing is certain though, and that is “free college” needs a new name, because no matter what route we take free college will never be free.

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