students graduating with debt

Should Public University be Free? We Asked, You Answered.

A big topic of discussion right now is whether a college education at a public university should be free. Recently it has been suggested that community college be free but traditional university will still come with a cost. People have opinions on this subject ranging from “no” to “yes” to “maybe” to “it depends.” In this opinion piece, we asked 13 people ranging from ages 15 to 64 from different states all across the country what they thought. We asked them; “Should a public university be free? Why?” Here are their answers.

A jar of money being saved for college tipped over

“I don’t think public university should be free mainly because all students have access to programs such as financial aid, scholarships and student loans. Saving money and budgeting for college also teaches students important financial lessons that they will use both at a public university and for the rest of their life.”

Marlee Thompson, 15, Sarasota FL

“Yes, because its labeled public just like public high schools which are free.”

Olivia Ludwig, 16, Sarasota FL

“I believe that public universities should be free to attend. Once you start to implement a charge on a ‘public’ university, then it is no longer public. Just like any event or club open to the public. Once you start to charge, it then turns to a private event or private club. The slow increase in the price of college over the past few decades has really blinded people of the dramatic increase in price over time. These universities are now more of a business trying to get money out of people, rather than a tool to help its citizens further their education. I think that if the country can spend $1.5 trillion on fighter jets that are malfunctioning, and that won’t even see combat until 2019 then we can give free public education.”

Odis Stevens, 22, San Francisco CA

“No. Because I think you should have some type of consequence if you abuse the free college privilege. Financial or otherwise. I think college tuition is expensive but if you were required to serve 3 years in the military before or after getting your degree. Motivation to finish college would be higher.”

Blake, 24, Dahlonega GA

“I think community college should be free but not a 4 year university. I think people should be given the opportunity to get their AA and continue on to get their bachelors if they so choose, but I think if 4 year university’s were free to attend then people wouldn’t take it as seriously as they would if they are paying to attend classes. It would be like a 4 year vacation to most people. If you really want and need free college it’s possible through good grades in high school and grants.”

Kelly Coston, 25, Austin TX

“Absolutely public university should be free. It would be quite a bit of funding I’m sure but it would actually stimulate the economy in the end and reduce unemployment rate. We are paying more for fewer grades and the main reason people even drop out of college is because the expense. The key to economic advancement is higher education or getting a degree. And to be quite honest, we as Americans need more educated citizens.”

Lauren Stevens, 26, Memphis TN

“I do not. I believe if anything the first two years at a community college could be free (sort of what the government does already through fafsa and Pell grant) but no to a university. That’s a privilege to attend one of those through good grades and discipline. I do not believe that should be free for everyone.”

Joe Jansen, 28, Chattanooga TN

“No I don’t think it should be free. I think if it was free it would cheapen the education we get. I think people may not aspire to be professors because they may not be able to make a living. If college is free I’m afraid that the quality of education will suffer. Things cost money, it’s going to end up coming out of someone’s pocket either way. On the other hand I think these constant tuition hikes are unnecessary and only hurt students by placing them in what seems like bottomless debt before they even graduate and find their career of choice.”

Zach Evans, 29, Boulder CO

“In my opinion it is a good but flawed idea. The idea of “free” public college will only shift the ever growing expense to taxpayers. The idea will also create increased enrollment which will also lead to higher cost per student.”

Andrew Miller, 30, Boulder CO

“I believe public university should be free because it would enrich people’s lives and they would contribute more money to the tax base and be less of a drain on the system if they could provide for themselves better.”

Anonymous, 46, Chicago IL

“I do not believe that public universities should be free. I do however, feel that they tuition costs should be relative to what the overall family income can afford—sliding scale the same as health insurance costs etc. I also don’t think that students should carry a huge financial debt on student loans when they graduate and am hoping that the laws are passed so that they will be able to refinance student loans the same way they are able to for home mortgages. My son is going into high school this fall and tuition costs are a huge concern of mine as costs go up every year.”   

Michelle Adams, 50, Quad Cities (Davenport) IA

“I don’t think public university should be free, but rather on a sliding scale based on income.  I can’t see it being beneficial for a student from a high income family not having to pay anything towards an education. But I do feel something needs to be done to make post high school education more accessible, but I don’t feel free is the answer needed.  I do feel our country is way behind in making college and university more available to ALL students.  I believe education benefits our society and the more educated people are the happier and more self-sufficient they are.”

Katy Anderson, 50, St. Paul MN

 “To even ask the question should public university education be free shows a profound ignorance of the principals with which this country was founded. Should university be free? Should McDonalds be free? Should having a car be Free? Where does this thinking end? Many in our population would like everything to be free but there is a cost to EVERYTHNG. There is no such thing as free, someone is paying for it, it just isn’t you. We live in a meritocracy, you earn things, they are not handed to you. Socialism works until you run out of other people’s money. The price of public education has skyrocketed because of large cheap capital flowed into the Universities in the form of student loans. How expensive do you think McDonalds big Mac would be if the public had unlimited loans to pay for your meals. Capital movement effects prices. Something our current education system has failed to teach, along with history and capitalism. The college education today has not produced well rounded free thinking individuals and is not what it once was. Most graduates are unprepared for the real world of competition and languish in entry level retail jobs. What in your life do you really appreciate that was free and handed to you.  Ever since the politicians installed student loans not one university or college has gone bankrupt but prior to this flow of money those that were poorly run went out of business. You don’t build character by being handed something. The real question is a public education worth the price today. There is an old saying proven by Steve Jobs and Bill Gates. A students work for C students and b students work for the Government. Most of the really great leaders of change on our world dropped out of college because it didn’t offer them a serious challenge.”

Steve Conway, 64, Cary NC

It is clear that there is no simple answer to this question. There is no simple solution to the problem of rising tuition costs. No matter what your opinion is on the subject, we all can agree on one thing; a good college education is important.

about the author

Callie Pederson

Facebook Twitter

Degree in Communication and Creative Writing. Outdoor enthusiast, animal lover, blogger.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *