Sep 21, 2016 08:34 AM EDT
When Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton recently made her plan public to offer free college tuition from students coming from qualified families, it was received with different reactions.
The former first lady's proposal is well-intentioned. Students from families with an annual income of $85,000 would surely benefit from the program and providing universities tuition subsidies can definitely encourage students to enroll and get their college degrees.
However, in a country where the cost of higher education has dramatically gone up to 74% in the last 20 years, opinion is divided on how offering free education can benefit American taxpayers when tuitions begin to rise with universities having more operating costs and expenses to accommodate students.
The staggering increase in the cost of tertiary learning has been observed by former Education Secretary William J. Bennett back in 1987 in what researchers have now come to know as the Bennett Hypothesis. Sec. Bennett's assumption was that the more colleges and universities get federal subsidies, the more they will feel obligated to expand their programs and create more departments which means hiring more teaching and non-teaching personnel, material resources and infrastructure that literally translates to more expense that makes getting education more expensive and not inexpensive and certainly not free as the federal government would want it.
Economist Trey Miller pointed out that while policymakers are keen on giving subsidies, they lack the demand for productivity and innovation. He observed that education institutions are very receptive of the aid yet they are not responsive in terms of keeping the costs low and raising the quality and credentials of their programs.
Interestingly, Dennis Clayton of The Courier raised some valid points on how states can operate an absolutely tuition fee-free tertiary institution dedicated to the sole purpose of educating students.
If the federal government's aim is to really provide free and inexpensive college education, then there needs to be an overhaul with all the stakeholders - the state governments, the state colleges and universities and the students. The program should be more performance-oriented and education-centric.
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