In the United States

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Should the Cost of College Education Be Free?

Introduction

In the United States, paying for a college education is rather expensive, and poor families are the ones left to bear the burden of expensive tuition fees. In the last two decades, the cost of college has increased significantly with the average tuition fees for both public and private universities rising constantly since 2000. According to the College Board, a student support organization, most students graduating from an undergraduate course in public institutions have to part with a minimum of $26, 290 which is unrealistic for many prospective university students. Students from the lower class whose parents cannot afford to finance their education end up taking loans to cater for tuition and other expenses which they repay once they get into employment. Taking into consideration various factors including cost, it would be prudent if college education was made free in the United States as it would reduce the burden of student debts. The debate about whether college should be made free is an issue of moral concern because the problem disproportionately affects students from a low economic background as well as the debt which students accumulate in the duration of college. This essay uses the theory of utilitarianism to provide an argument as to why college education should be made free in the United States.

Background Information

To explain the problem of the high cost of college education in the United States, the theory of utilitarianism applies perfectly. The theory of Utilitarianism was coined between the late 18th and early 19th century by John Stuart Mill and Jeremy Bentham who were economists and English philosophers (Perna, Elaine and Stephanie 1741). While the decision to make college education free has advantages, it also brings forth disadvantages. The theory of utilitarianism is a theory that explains morality and advocates for actions that bring happiness to the community as a whole and oppose actions that cause harm or unhappiness. In terms of economic, social, or political decision-making, the theory of utilitarianism advocates making society better for everyone. The proponents of the theory hold that pleasure of happiness is the only thing that holds true intrinsic value.

Supporting Argument

Making College Education Free Improves Society

One of the main reasons why college education should be made free is because education breeds educated people that can help in solving societal problems hence improving society. As a result, society tends to progress faster. Moreover, people that have gone through college education are better placed to understand their society’s history as well as its current economic conditions. This places them in a position to participate in politics and informing improvements that make the country better. When people are well educated they can be employed in skilled jobs which improves a country’s workforce and reduces the gap between upper, middle, and lower classes of people (Jackson, 36). A better society aligns with the notion of the theory of utilitarianism that supports actions that are meant to make society better for everyone.

Making College Education Gives Students Freedom to Choose a Major they Love

As is, college students are more drawn towards majors that are practical and lucrative and not necessarily what they love. This is because they are studying using student loans and their goal is to graduate within the shortest time possible so they get a good job to help them repay their student loan. If students do not have to worry about thousands of dollars, students and parents will feel at ease. Students can focus on a course within their area of interest as they do not have to worry about the paycheck associated with their course. If students have an interest and enjoy taking a course in their area of interest, they are more likely to stick with it and rarely avoid burnout. The theory of utilitarianism empathizes on pleasure and happiness as the only true intrinsic value in a decision, and as such, making college education ought to be considered.

Counterargument

Making College Education Free Reduces Value of College Degrees

One of the main reasons why making college education is not a good decision is that the decision to make college education free is likely to devalue college degrees. Making college education frees means that all people from all walks of life as long as they are qualified would get an opportunity to advance their education. Further, the decision would pose the challenge of students resulting in cutting classes because they are not looking to get their value for money. If students are catering for tuition fees, they are likely to stick to their schedules and attend all classes because they have a goal; to complete college and to get a job so that they can repay pack their student loans. Currently, the cost of colleges fosters seriousness because there is a financial drive. Without this financial drive, students become lazy and demotivated. In my opinion, although removing college tuition fees poses the challenge of devaluing college degrees, the decision has a greater good which is improving society and giving students the freedom to pursue a degree which they love and enjoy. The decision would foster happiness and pleasure which supersedes the disadvantage.

Conclusion

In question as to whether college education should be made free, the informed choice is to make college free particularly for public institutions. This is because this decision has more advantages than disadvantages and that the advantages foster happiness and satisfaction in line with the theory of utilitarianism. Making college education free would lead to an improved society because learned education is better placed to solve problems in the society by joining the political arena where they can inform changes. Further making college education free allows students to pursue a course they love and enjoy as opposed to pursuing a course based on the returns they are likely to get upon graduation.

Works Cited

Jackson, Victoria. “Ohio Promise: Equitable Free College.” Policy Matters Ohio (2018).

Perna, Laura W., Elaine W. Leigh, and Stephanie Carroll. ““Free college:” A new and improved state approach to increasing educational attainment?.” American Behavioral Scientist 61.14 (2017): 1740-1756.