Opinion: College is not free

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Sam Stroud

Staff Writer

Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the opinions of the Tropolitan or its staff members. Address responses and critiques to opinion@tropnews.com

As the 2020 election cycle rolls along, the American public is saturated with liberal campaign policies being touted by left wing progressives. One of the more ludicrous, and subsequently popular, proposals coming from the left recently is the promise of free college and debt forgiveness by taxing the wealthiest sections of the private sector. A plan to do just that was put forth by presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren, and she has been championing this plan for some time now. Her proposal for free college is terrible for several reasons. First, it simply does not work mathematically. Second, this plan involves the federal government in matters it has no business being in. Third, it rewards financially dangerous decisions and penalizes hard work. 

In terms of working on a policy level, Warren’s plan does not hold up. Her plan to pay off student loans by taxing individuals with more than 50 million worth of assets at a 2% tax rate. For every dollar they make, 2% goes to the federal government. With the money raised from that tax, the federal government would cancel up to $50,000 worth of debt for any borrower with a household income of less than $100,000, which would be the vast majority of graduates in debt. This is not a sustainable plan. The “rich” simply cannot be continuously taxed in order to pay for a plan that would cost more than a trillion dollars over the next decade. There simply is not enough money to go around. 

As for the current price of college, Warren’s plan claims that the federal and state governments should split the cost of tuition and subsequent fees. This inevitably will lead to more taxes, most likely on the middle class by states who would have to meet the federal government halfway. 

The second issue with this plan is its further entrenchment of the federal government into the academic sector. Frankly, the federal government has absolutely no business subsidizing private individual’s student loans. Taking out a loan is a choice that every person can make. Some do make it, and they are more than welcome to do that. However, it is not the government’s responsibility to then erase the consequences of that person’s decision. It doesn’t matter if the government is only taking money from the wealthy. 

Those who have that kind of money have earned it, and nowhere in the Constitution does it say that the federal government can simply snatch up a private individual’s profit to pay off somebody else’s education. The federal government’s budget is already far over bloated. There is no constitutional basis to add student loans to the list of things the government needs to pay for.

Third, this plan encourages students to rely on the federal government’s use of other people’s money to pay for their education and penalizes hard work that many college students put in to not having to take out loans. Instead of working hard and getting great scholarships or working enough to pay off college, plans like Warren’s create an environment in which hard work is denigrated by rewarding failure. If a student cannot go to college without taking out massive loans, perhaps they should consider cheaper alternatives or trade school. If they decide on an expensive college anyway, it is not prudent to force others to pay off their loans.

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