Free tu­ition would not ruin U.S. col­leges

The Morning Call - - TOWN SQUARE -

In a re­cent op-ed, Michael MacDow­ell ar­gued that free tu­ition would fi­nan­cially ruin U.S. col­leges and uni­ver­si­ties. Al­though I am also not a fan of free tu­ition, I dis­agree with sev­eral of his ar­gu­ments.

First, a uni­ver­sity ed­u­ca­tion is not just a fi­nan­cial ben­e­fit for the grad­u­ate, it is a ben­e­fit for all of so­ci­ety. In to­day’s high-tech world, we need a bet­ter-ed­u­cated work­force to com­pete in our global econ­omy. No longer can a high school de­gree achieve that.

Sec­ond, free tu­ition does not mean un­lim­ited ac­cess. Col­leges and uni­ver­si­ties will still re­quire stu­dents to meet ad­mis­sion stan­dards. Florida has a schol­ar­ship pro­gram that pays tu­ition to state uni­ver­si­ties for its best stu­dents, but its uni­ver­si­ties are not any more crowded or fi­nan­cially strapped than oth­er­wise.

The cur­rent fi­nan­cial de­cline in U.S. col­leges is more tied to the un­avail­abil­ity of enough qual­i­fied stu­dents. The tra­di­tional col­lege-age stu­dent pop­u­la­tion is de­creas­ing na­tion­ally, so many uni­ver­si­ties are set­ting up on­line de­gree pro­grams for older stu­dents. Those ed­u­ca­tional in­sti­tu­tions that are not in­no­vat­ing are go­ing out of busi­ness. Steven Van Sciver Beth­le­hem Town­ship

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