Home | About | Donate

Why We Must Make Public Higher Education Tuition Free


Why We Must Make Public Higher Education Tuition Free

Bernie Sanders

Americans face almost $1.5 trillion in debt in the name of higher education


This matter should probably be left to the states. The national situation is too complex. In-state tuition for undergraduates now can range from a few thousand dollars to over twenty thousand dollars a year. And many public universities are not state schools but state-assisted schools. Tuition at public schools is now subsidized by state taxpayers. Some states contribute the bulk of tuition and some don’t. States should follow the lead of New York if the want free tuition. But in New York all the public schools are state schools so that model might not work well for states with state-assisted schools.


Why is Bernie the only politician talking about this?

Direct Democracy


Actually Bernie’s “College for All Act” (S806) has 7 co-sponsors in the Senate and Pramila Jayapal’s identical bill in the House (HR1880) has 35 co-sponsors in the House.


Interesting that Gillibrand is a co-sponsor. That means she is supporting free tuition and single-payer heath care. Could she be positioning herself for a run at the presidency? Certainly seems like it.


Ok, stupid question. (Disclaimer: I am very in favor of low or no tuition public college) If a high school degree was once enough to get a person a decent job, why don’t we do what we need to do to make that so again? In addition to making it easier to get a college degree?


Murkin elementary and high schools deal with so many social issues compared to a half century ago that their efforts to educate are diluted. Plus it costs a lot more to offer trade classes like auto shop and metal shop than it does to get Microsoft to set up a computer lab. No student ever lost a finger in a computer lab.

When I lived in Germany forty years ago they were expanding trade programs while the US was shrinking them. Now I see signs by the side of the Murkin roads soliciting ASE mechanic jobs $36/hr., electricians $46/hr. (yes, I don’t live in a right-to-starve state)

Germany has offered undergraduate tuition-free enrollment for Murkins and other foreigners (who qualify academically) for several years. Now they offer graduate programs with tuition of $100-$200 per term, about what I paid at California State University nearly forty years ago (undergraduate tuition was less than that.

Some of Germany’s programs are in English and I have heard that universities in other European nations are following suit.

The most likely outcome for Murka’s accelerating downward spiraling education system is an ever growing brain drain whereby the brightest foreigners go elsewhere while Murka’s brightest move abroad.


I agree but how? Congress won’t even pass food stamps. How are we going to get this money for education? Unless it’s tacked on to a military gift bill I don’t see it. And, oh, look who’s still ringing in the libs. Sorry, Bernie. I donated too much to your campaign to ever forgive your fake-candidate-dem-party-tool-arse-again. I didn’t trust this as anything but hot air the second I saw your pic. If you want our taxes to stop going to the MIC and give us social programs instead - including universal college, vote Stein and start saying her name so people can remember she’s an option.


Actually that would be expected regardless of her Presidential ambitions just because she represents New York. Remember that New York has committed to a tuition-free college program so they are already set to spend considerable funds in that endeavor. If the Feds make a significant contribution toward that effort, New York will actually save money.


Why does Bernie want to limit free tuition to families making under $125K? That is no way to sell a public policy.


For one hundred years [1868- 1967], California taxpayers funded the tuition free, world class University of California, Berkeley, for their children, not just those in families making under $125K a year. How was that possible?

Today, Californians and others can’t afford to send their children to University. What happened?
The essential bases for the lack of current funding are: the electorate became fragmented [e pluribus multum and a resultant diminution of “sense of collective responsibility”], California became overpopulated, the additional population did not reflect the economic substance and integrity of the population of the first hundred years, immigration driven excess population placed enormous pressure on resources, and drove up the cost of land and derivative costs way beyond inflation, and because millions of the newcomers were poor, their taxes didn’t begin to cover the costs of K12, welfare, etc for their families, and many of their children ended up in prison.
As a consequence [somewhat simplified] State funds previously used to support the University were diverted to increased funding of K12, to prisons, and to welfare.

Given the irreversible nature of much of what has happened, the disinterest of the California elite and the apathy of the general populace in supporting an analysis of what happened, to better enable a solution, the future for California middle class students and their parents will be even more financially challenging than it is now.


Why don’t we study Australia’s system? They don’t seem to have a student loan crisis.
They also didn’t have a financial crisis. Nor a Savings & Loan debacle. Wonder why?


Could be, but I don’t see Schumer co-sponsoring it, nor do I see Schumer endorsing single-payer. Yet, Cory Booker is endorsing single-payer, and he is another senator who is said to be interested in the presidency.

I still don’t understand how this would work. Who would decide what the tuition is? The federal government, the states, the schools? I think right now some states decide what the tuition is and some schools do.


That is what it is New York State. Also, a student has to remain in New York after college for every year the student receives free tuition or has to pay back the tuition.


As I read the law, the Federal government will provide the states with a grant equivalent to paying 2/3 of the 2015/2016 tuition and the state will be required to pay at least half of the federal contribution or 1/3 of the 2015/2016 rate. This is based on enrollment numbers for working class and middle class students where the income threshold of $125,000 increases with a national index of wages. Then there are controls to ensure that the state doesn’t lower the quality of college education and other controls that the tuition grants can’t go up faster than the Federal Employment Cost Index.


If someone with a degree will earn hundreds of thousands more than someone without the degree, let them pay for it themselves.

Why is it fair to tax others (including those WITHOUT degrees) to give someone else the opportunity to earn extra money?


A well-educated population holds a fundamental benefit to society generally. It drives new innovations, a more productive society, lower crime rates, and a host of other benefits (ask yourself if there is really any major detriment to society of having a more education population). This is the reason that public education has been a mainstay of public support since the founding of the republic. It is the reason that Lincoln developed the land grant colleges as a major initiative of his administration and the reason that they were tuition free for a hundred years after that.
The individuals who do make the education benefit in lifetime earnings will pay forward for their tuition many times over in future taxes to support the next generation of learners.


Sure. european style. Have a baccalureate exam upon highschool completion and have the students that achieved highest grades attend “free” college.


The primary benefit of the education is to the individual receiving it, as noted in the article - to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars. At this point in time, perhaps one-third of adults have college degrees. I fail to see the ethical basis for making a group pay for someone else’s private benefit. The social benefits of a more educated population are secondary to those of the individual receiving the education.

If someone earns $1M more with a bachelor’s degree, they should be perfectly willing to incur the cost on their own - Let’s say the cost is $200K (medium-priced private college) - they still come out $800K to the good. Why should someone who ISN’T earning that additional million have to pay for the person making the additional million?

To your point of “is really any major detriment to society of having a more educated population” there is one potential downside - misallocation of resources. At some point, the marginal utility of additional education expenditures falls below other uses of time and money, but that’s a thoughtexperiment response to a thoughtexperiment question…


My only quibble with this important idea is this: when orthopedic surgeons in our cities can make up to 2 million per year, maybe we also need to think of a sliding scale of assistance or some form of payback for the few hugely lucrative professions that take advantage of people.