Bernie Sanders started it and now Hillary Clinton is using the same line: Elect me and there will be free college education for everyone. That sounds good to get votes but it’s not likely to happen. And, the candidates know it!
Somebody’s got to foot the bills for a college education. Somebody must pay the cost of the salaries of instructors. What about the facilities that would be needed to house and instruct the flood of students who would enroll? Who is going to pay for maintenance of facilities and the hundreds of other expenses?
The candidates have not given details about how a free college education for everybody is going to be financed.
Apparently, many of the young people aren’t buying into the free college education political promise. The Wall Street Journal reported in its weekend issue of Sept. 17-18 that “Young Voters Cool to Clinton.” That’s why Hillary Clinton’s supporters are speaking at colleges, trying to sell Hillary to students.
Hillary Clinton’s once-commanding lead among young voters has nearly collapsed, several polls show, a factor making the presidential race much closer in recent weeks and prompting the Clinton campaign to move quickly to keep a core Democratic constituency in the fold,” The Journal said. Even Sanders has been enlisted to talk to college students.
It also has been reported that the Libertarian candidate, Gary Johnson, is picking up some young voters who had been backing Clinton.
Young voters helped elect President Barack Obama twice. He promised them the moon but he didn’t mention a free college education. Even he knows that the money for a free college education would have to come from money appropriated by Congress, which isn’t likely to support such an idea. If it did, revenue for other programs, even perhaps defense, would have to be cut. Obama had appeal because he was young — a fresh face. Hillary by contrast is an old face. She isn’t rallying the young voters like Obama did. It would be interesting to check all of the promises made by Obama that have not been fulfilled. Of course, he’s not the only resident of the White House who failed to fulfill promises. If Congress isn’t on a president’s side, well, those promises become empty.
If a college education would be free, the higher education institutions would be packed with students who really aren’t prepared. They would flunk out or quit.
No one really has answered the question of why a college education should be free. Sure, the debt carried by many college graduates is a major problem for young people. A college education does cost too much today. No one will argue that point. However, the fact is college students have better facilities, better food, better everything compared to other generations. They have been pampered. For some students, they have never had it so good — they are living better than they did at home.
We remember the days when a good number of college students had part-time jobs and received little or no money from home. It was common for students to work for their meals. In the 1940s, when veterans took advantage of the G.I. bill after World War II, facilities at many colleges were pressed to the point that surplus Army barracks were erected to house students. They had “potbelly” stoves for heat and cinders substituted for grass. At MU, an Army barracks area was called “pneumonia gulch.” Some housing was in basements and garages turned into bedrooms at private homes. That was a tough era to attend college. The veterans were serious students.
Does the government owe a free college education to every high school graduate? Not to worry. It’s not going to happen. College education would not be so expensive it were not for the luxuries students enjoy. And then there’s the high cost of tenured professors, some of whom really don’t have much of a student load due to the changes in the educational climate.
Instead of trying to give college students more, should we start thinking about providing fewer luxuries?