The Cost of San Francisco Offering Free College

In San Francisco, free college tuition is becoming a reality. On Feb. 6, the mayor of San Francisco, Ed Lee, announced free tuition for residents. This makes San Francisco “the first city in the nation to offer free tuition to residents,” according to PBS News.

Free education is a very controversial topic in the current American society. During the 2016 Presidential Elections, the candidates touched on the topic of free tuition several times. The Washington Post explained Hillary Clinton’s “debt-free college plan,” which would go into action if she were to win the Presidential Election. Clinton’s plan was to begin with families who earned yearly incomes of $85,000 or lower. These people would pay no tuition, due to their economic status. Next, she would have the income maximum increase by $10,000 a year, for the next four years. On the other hand, according to Fox Insider, President Trump expressed his concern with this idea by stating that taxes for the American people not attending college would sky-rocket, and explained that the increase would be stressful for taxpayers. President Trump also mentioned that he would love to see free education in America, but it simply is not a current option.

Patrick Murphy, economics professor, also mentioned his same concern on the matter; “Where would they generate the revenue to pay for it? Depending on how its paid for, can be dangerous to mess around with for the people, and the market.”

USA Today reports that San Francisco is able to able to free college due to tax on properties that sold for at least $5 million, and this agreement of free college is expected to begin next fall. Mayor Lee explained that the money saved will not only go toward tuition, but students who receive The Board of Governors Waiver, will also get at least an additional $500. The thought behind this additional $500 is, “For books, for fees, for transportation costs. Things that are really costing students and adding to their debt…we want our students to be debt free,” Lee said.

The point that Lee was making was that he wants students to be able to go into the adult world debt-free and allow them to be stress free concerning student loans. Students wanting to qualify for free tuition in the city must have lived in the city for at least a year prior to applying for college. Lee’s announcement concerning his plan for the residents of San Francisco students was recorded and published on YouTube.

San Francisco is not the only place that offers free college. Certain colleges in the United States also offer free tuition, with requirements. Residents of the state of New York have the opportunity, if accepted, to have a full scholarship to Macaulay Honors College. Macaulay Honors College offers perks from their “Opportunities Fund”. This offers a grant that can be up to “$7,500 to be used toward supplemental learning experiences, such as a study abroad, internship, or professional development project,” according to website The Best Colleges.

Another college that offers free tuition to students is Curtis Institute of Music. The music based college is located in Philadelphia, Pa. “Admission is highly competitive, with a total enrollment of only 165 students,” according to The Best Colleges. All accepted students receive a full scholarship, and students with provable financial need will get financial assistance for other expenses.

There are countries around the world that offer free college to residents, such as Germany, Sweden, Norway, France, Slovenia, and Finland. However, there are some down sides to these countries offering free college though. In Norway and Sweden, the cost of living is sky-high. This is the issue that President Trump spoke about in response to Clinton, as the money for the college would have to come from taxes, causing cost of living to increase.

Nevertheless, free college for San Francisco residents is helping America take a step forward with the other countries who already offer free tuition. The students, who participate, are fortunate to start their lives debt free from student loans. It is exciting to see positive outcomes from Lee’s success, and if any other cities or states follow in San Francisco’s footsteps.

Advantages and Disadvantages The following is the advantages and disadvantage of free college according to Economics Help,

There are several advantages of having free college. There would be equality of opportunity for everyone, allowing students from low income families to be able to attend university.

Also, another benefit is that there would be more educated workers, benefitting society.

“Higher education leads to a more educated and productive workforce. Countries with high rates of university education generally have higher levels of innovation and productivity growth,” according to Economics Help.

Also, since there is currently a high need for specialization professions, giving access to education would allow more people to be trained for these professions; according to Economics Help, “The global economy has forced countries, such as the UK to specialize in higher tech and higher value added products and services.”

However, a disadvantage of free college is that some people may not finish their degree, wasting the money spent on the time that they attended. In fact, according to Economics Help, “many graduates are leaving university to take jobs which don’t require a degree… Therefore, it is a mistake to continue to fund the public expansion of university education because the economy doesn’t need more graduates as much as other skills.”

Another disadvantage, according to Economics Help is that free college can make some students be complacent; so, having to work for a higher education would make students value going to college more.

“If higher education is free, it may encourage students to take an easy three years of relaxation,” according to Economics Help.

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