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Apr 05 2016
by Daja Henry

Is Free College For All Really Possible?

By Daja Henry - Apr 05 2016
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Student loan debt has been a hot topic lately, especially with the presidential race. With an aggregate total of 1.2 trillion dollars in student debt, it's clear the U.S. has a problem. Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders is known for his plan to make college free. Many are skeptical, and they have reason to be. After all, this thing has failed in the past.

A Time article posted Monday recalls America's past attempts at free college. The most prominent attempt was that of California, which came to a halt in the 1970's. Education was free in California until around 1970, when an educational fee of $150 was instituted. From then, it just went downhill. Eventually, under President Ronald Reagan, tuition was implemented despite the protests of college students and UC President Clark Kerr. In addition to the implementation of tuition, the state also began pulling funding from education.

However, there is some reasoning behind the government's cutbacks. According to Time, there are far more people enrolled in college nowadays than in the times of California's free colleges, about 100 years ago. In the 1909-1910 school year, approximately 2.9 percent of 18 to 24 year olds were enrolled in higher education. By 2012, this number had jumped to 41 percent. In addition, the students back in earlier days were mostly from very affluent families. 

Sandy Baum, an Urban Institute senior fellow and researcher of higher-education finance, told Time, "The reality is that when free college works — when the taxpayers are able and willing to pay for the full tuition for everyone — is when not too many people go to college."

This leaves us with the question of the century. If free college is not plausible, what are alternative ways for funding education?

Lead Image Credit: Flickr Creative Commons

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Daja Henry - Howard University

Daja Henry is a sophomore Media, Journalism, and Film Communications major at Howard University. She is a writer, lyric connoisseur, and lover of all cultures. You can follow her on Twitter @dajaeh97.

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