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  • Can no-fee degrees actually become a fiscal reality?
  • Posted By:
  • Kathy H
  • Posted On:
  • 19-Jul-2014
  • Contrary to what is happening in many countries across the world, certain states in US are a part of a movement that calls for free university studies. Rather than placing a huge burden on students and parents, these states are actually trying to find ways to sustain education without taxing them.

    Two year associate degrees are already being offered for free in one state at the community colleges. This model is already being considered at another state. A new organization led by ex-aide of our former vice-president Al Gore is calling vociferously to public universities to offer free tuition.

    All federal financial aid can be consolidated and redirected to offer two years of free tuition across the nation says a private body Lumina Foundation that awards grants in a recent report. Educational policy expert and sociologist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Sara Goldrick-Rab opine that in order to advance our country’s level of education, it is imperative to offer it for free.

    Similar to the free primary and secondary schooling offered for $ 160,000 annual income group presently, she urges states also to offer two years of higher education for free in her capacity as a co-author of Lumina report. Apart from the tuition, students must also be given books and supplies free.

    Give students from families with incomes of $180,000 or less free public university tuition for four years says the Redeeming America’s Promise, a bipartisan national organization run by Morley Winograd, Gore’s former advisor. Loans tied to their post graduation incomes will be made available by this organization for students which will take care of their living expenses.

    Both the above proposals can indeed become a reality if the existing state and federal financial aid is efficiently redirected which in turn will also reduce the tax burden and the huge university tuition fees families have to pay. These proposals will also effectively reduce any need for additional spending.

    While all these ideas seem life altering for Americans, the idea already has precedents. Till former president Ronald Reagan introduced tuition fees in 1970s at the University of California institutions, free tuition was offered for top students. Free education was also offered once by the City University of New York.

    Students who had graduated from these universities without paying anything towards tuition subsequently rose to high positions of power and achievement. Till today, there are institutions in our country offering free tuition.

    Students who serve a military term are offered tuition free education by the US merchant marine, Coast Guard, air force and navy academies. CUNY still offers high achieving students tuition waiver while certain small institutions waive tuition for those who work in exchange for fees.

    Obviously the recent skyrocketing of tuition fee at most of the public universities is directly due to funding cuts by the government. Another reason is the poorly targeted existing financial aid. It is time to factor in all these issues and find a beneficial solution that will give more number of deserving students a chance to access quality higher education.


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