Abolish Tuition for Public Higher Education

By Breonna Johnson

Colleges are expensive and lead to long term debt from student loans. Average tuition at a public four-year college has more than tripled over the past 30 years, but a typical family’s income has barely budged. Making public colleges free, will allow more students to follow the career paths of their dreams, no matter the salary. This will lead to a decrease in unemployment rates. To relieve the student loan debt crisis, it has been suggested  by Bernie Sanders that we make all public colleges free, and that we get the money by taxing the upper class.

Politicians have many ideas for making college free. Hillary Clinton and President Obama agree on making community college free. Some students would attend two years of community college before transferring to finish their last two years at a four-year college (one way to cut an overwhelming debt). But Bernie Sanders thinks that this is not enough. He wants to make public colleges free, the same way Germany’s colleges are free for both residential and international students. Clearly, there is a way for college to be affordable for all, especially if this has proven successful elsewhere.

Sanders –a U.S senator and a contender for the Democratic nomination– has a six-step plan to make college affordable, including cutting student loan interest and insuring free public college. Not only is Sanders aiming to make public colleges completely free, he also wants to decrease the student loan interest rates.

Sanders said, “In 1978, it was possible to earn enough money to pay for a year of college tuition just by working a summer job that paid minimum wage. Today, it would take a minimum wage worker an entire year to earn enough to cover the annual in-state tuition at a public university.”

Another part of Sanders’ plan for the student loan crisis is dollar-to-dollar matching grants to cut the total debt down by 55%. The idea is to give two free years to students at all colleges not only community colleges. The government would spend $18 billion a year. This 2016 presidential candidate has big ideas to end this growing crisis.

Making public colleges free is not a new idea. It has been used before in many other developed countries, such as France, Ireland, Great Britain and Germany. With rising tuition and expensive debt, students are trying to find places to go that won’t ultimately indebt them for what may feel like the rest of their lives. This includes going to schools in other countries that only charge a yearly interest fee that is a couple hundreds of dollars versus the thousands of dollars a year they would be paying in the United States.

Germany has total tuition free colleges for all who want to gain an education. The tuition is controlled by law to be low to non, holding for international students as well. With the lack of tuition more students are going to Germany for a more cost effective living.

Not only are Germany’s universities tuition free but they also has some of the best universities in the world. The University of Heidelberg has produced 55 Nobel laureates and nine Nobel prize winners and Germany’s current Chancellor Angela Merkel graduated from Leipzig University.

Dorothee Stapelfeldt, a senator from Hamburg, described tuition fees as “socially unjust.” She added that “[Tuition fees] particularly discourage young people who do not have a traditional academic family background from taking up studies. It is a core task of politics to ensure that young women and men can study with a high quality standard free of charge in Germany.”

Studying in Germany doesn’t mean you have to be fluent in the language (but it would be beneficial, living-wise, to speak the language).

More classes are being offered in English as the number of non-German students increase. By 2020, the graduate classes at German Universities may be held in English only.

Hunter Bliss, a student at the Technical University in Munich, saves a vast amount of money studying overseas. Bliss choice to study abroad over going to a local college was easy when looking at the amount of money he would need. He pays $246 a year on school expenses. He has a fee of $120 per semester at the Technical University of Munich.  Food, housing, and the inclusion of an additional $87 for mandatory health insurance the total cost of tuition is nearly half the price of what it would in the States. Minimal fees compared to the U.S is a compelling reason for looking at schools in other countries to get a higher education. Health necessities and educational fees being just as affordable for international students in other countries encourages students to want to go to college. Not only would the education be little to nothing in Germany in cost but living there is just as manageable while getting a degree.

How much does it cost?

in Euro/month Hunter
Living in     Garching
Rent        280
Health insurance         80
Semester fee*         20
Groceries        140
Misc        100
TOTAL        620
*includes transportation


Bernie Sanders has made education a priority and says he will do all he can to make higher education affordable for future college students. Student loan debt is an increasing problem that needs to be handled and Sanders plans to be the one to change it.

Free public college has been successful in many countries and it is possible for the U.S to follow in their footsteps. Students are already taking advantage of the low cost of studying in another country; all they need to pay for is the trip there, food, health, and entrance fees. All at lower cost than back home.



7 Comments Add yours

  1. Amanda Levin says:

    I am very curious about whether or not Americans would take advantage (seriously to go to school and get educated) if it were free. History has shown that Americans seem to not value (and then not support and then let whither – viscous cycle) that which comes free, like if it is free it is really not worth anything. Thoughts?


    1. alexisggg10 says:

      Yeah I wonder too if college actually becomes tuition free will it motivate more American people to attend college?


  2. alexisggg10 says:

    I definitely think the US should look up to countries like Germany and France.


    1. Jae says:

      I don’t think Americans would value education as much if it was free. The same way how many Americans don’t value high School education because it’s free.


  3. Breonna says:

    There is the idea that if something is free it has no value, however there are people who would benefit and want to go to a ‘free’ college. Its not a law saying someone has to go to college. Also this article focuses on public colleges, private colleges are still an option if ‘free’ education has no meaning.


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