Letter to the Editor

Mariah Boye

If the age-old saying is true — you get what you pay for — is free college going to provide opportunity, or will it lead to entitlement and a drop in the quality of education? In my experience, the things given freely to me are generally taken for granted; however, the things that I have worked for and paid for, I have appreciated the full benefit of. Let’s start with the buzzword being used here — free. Is anything really free anymore? Not usually, so the question is, who is going to pay for this free education? The answer is taxpayers. Forbes stated that the proposition of free college in New Jersey would raise their income tax to about 11 percent, which is a very unsettling number. Whether the payers have a student in college or not, they are paying an annual tuition (*cough* socialism).

Another thing to add to that: where do all of the students go? There won’t be nearly enough room for everyone, meaning the demand for new colleges will rise. BBC News claimed that colleges can cost over $35 million, some being extremely higher with a single building costing over $20 million. That has to be paid for somehow, and with no cost to the students, the taxpayers once again will be the ones picking up the slack. Once these colleges are built, how will they be sustained? Someone has to pay the electrical bill, and I think by now, we all know whose shoulders that will be falling on. Americans want tax cuts, but how are taxes supposed to be cut when they are the main driver for free education itself?

There is also another caveat. What will the value of education be? A huge advantage of obtaining a college degree is to set yourself above others in the workforce. If thousands of others now have the same degree as you, what is your value? Your degree can be deemed nearly useless, as everyone else has the same exact one. Why would an employer want to pay you, the seasoned professional, when there is someone waiting behind you who will be willing to take a $10,000 pay cut? The more degrees that exist, the more value that gets flushed out. Every degree brings down the wage and opportunity in that area of employment.

Let’s look at it from the professors’ point of view. Not only has their value, and most likely their salary, gone down, but their will to work may as well. Now instead of 100 essays to grade, they have 250. Keep in mind that while they are working more than ever, their impending pay cut is also sitting in the back of their mind. Why would they want to do over double the work for nearly half of the salary? Or we can hire more professors. I’m sure the tax payers wouldn’t mind another increase at the end of the year. So, not only is the value of education going down, but the quality of education may decrease as well.

A final food for thought — college is a privilege, not a right. The government already provides assistance to those who need it, and others just work hard to put themselves through it. What is to say that the people that actually had to work for their degree won’t want compensation? Where would the “free” education line be drawn? If everyone should have free education, does that really mean everyone?