Blog Entry #14: Final Project Research

The focus for my final project/feature article is whether or not higher education should be free in the United States.  As I’m sure most people in the class would agree (as we are currently all college students at a pricey, private liberal arts schools), free higher education would be a game changer.

Although I have had scholarships and forms of tuition remission throughout my college education, I have still had to take out a LOT of loans, just in order to survive while in college.  Though I am incredibly grateful for the graduate assistantship I hold at NCC (because it pays my tuition and fees), the stipend I am awarded for working for the college is only $3,750.00 PER YEAR, which breaks down to about $300.00 per month-- far from a living wage.  I suppose I could have taken on another job or two instead of taking the student loans, but I had this radical idea that working one intensive job while completing graduate level classes and having any semblance of a normal life is more than enough for one person to handle at once.

I had never really thought that free higher education could be a thing until the most recent presidential election when Bernie Sanders spoke on it.  Now, some cities/states have made free college a reality and I want to explore how they did it, how the rest of the country can all do it, and (to make my project well-rounded) I want to explore both pros and cons and possibly some alternatives.

The most interesting thing I think I have found so far in my research is that “there actually was a time in the nation's history when people could attend public colleges for free. The Morrill Act of 1862 enabled land-grant colleges to be created by states on federal lands so that higher education could become available to Americans in every social class. The aim was ‘to promote the liberal and practical education of the industrial classes in the several pursuits and professions in life.’”

I want to look into why this stopped, too.  It doesn’t seem, to me, to be impossible to make college free in the United States.  We have already made some public education free (grades 1 through 12), so why stop there?  I think that having more college-educated people in the work force would be a great thing for our country and for our citizens.

Comments

  1. OMG! This is amazing. I am also a GA with free tuition and it has been incredibly hard to sustain a "normal" life without student loans. I think that we are also privileged to be getting an education but wow the cost is high. I hope I get a chance to read what you find! As a higher ed student and soon professional, this is an issue that will always be relevant.

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  2. I had no idea the stipend the college gives is so low! Now I don't feel quite as bad for taking out loans for my tuition and keeping my full time job.

    I am also very curious as to why something seemingly so amazing as free public college stopped. I wonder if it's related to the highly capitalistic nature we see in literally every aspect of this country. I do hope we start to see more cities and states implement this again, although I wouldn't expect it to happen during Trump's administration.

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