Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders: Make public colleges free for everyone

Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders makes a case today for free public college in a Washington Post op-ed, writing: “It is time to build on the progressive movement of the past and make public colleges and universities tuition-free in the United States — a development that will be the driver of a new era of American prosperity. We will have a stronger economy and a stronger democracy when all young people with the ambition and the talent can reach their full potential, regardless of their circumstances at birth.”

The Post also shares a video of Sanders explaining his reasoning:

Take a look:

Reader Comments 0

76 comments
SteveKJR
SteveKJR

Free college will eventually be like a HS degree because everyone will be dumbed down.

Enoch19
Enoch19

'"Cabal of right wing" legislators responsible for tuition at public universities all over America.  Tin Foil Hat much.

OriginalProf
OriginalProf

Curious, the oft repeated claim below by EuroYankee--without any citation or link as proof--that all universities that had been land-grant colleges were tuition-free until a cabal of Republican governors began charging tuition in 1970.  All through the 1960s and 1970s, I and my husband attended undergraduate and then graduate school at a Northern state university that originated as a land-grant college. We sure were charged tuition!!

Carlos_Castillo
Carlos_Castillo

Wheeeee! ..... Everything should be free for everyone!

BCW1
BCW1

Free...free...free...nothing is free! somebody is paying for it. How about REDUCING the tuition. Now there is a novel idea. This deficit spending is beyond me. How many of you bloggers spends more money than you take in?

anothercomment
anothercomment

People don't understand how to due the net present value ( value engineer ) a proposal). If we were to go back to the original premise of the free land grant public universities with free tuition we would save a lot of money with other financial aid programs, their administration and student loan defaults,

Let's say that 80% of the 50-60% of the population that will attend the public colleges that now have free tuition. They will no longer have to have Pell grants. Let's assume that we clean up the whole situation and make tuition really be tuition again not this absurdity called tuition and then fees. It needs to be one number again called tuition. Not what it cost to support Boys football and Basketball teams and their multi millionaire coaches, not 5 star gyms, not international students or study abroad programs for a few. Dorms are fine being shared 200 SF or less rooms with cinder block walls with shared baths. One study room and one community room/ kitchen per floor. We don't need $10,000 per student per year privatized apartments for students ( that some developer friend of the governor or regent board makes a profit off of) Part of being a student is learning to live frugally. We also need to get rid of all the administrative staff that have been added on to run these programs; financial aid; fee administration; accounting or numerous different line items vs one called Tuition, sports programs, recreation programs, study abroad, international students, ect...

Then subtract all the Pell grants. All the student loans. The default costs. The missed opportunity cost of so much of our population being bogged down with student loan debt. Not being able to purchase their first homes because their debt ratios are too high or worse case a default.

If the land grants are returned to free tuition status then the private universities will have no choice but to compete with them. They will lower their prices to make sure they still attract the good students. i went to a good Private university. It is listed in 2014 top 378 colleges. It is a Research university. tUition was $3.200-6,400 yr in 1978 a1983 one could work three summer jobs and part-time during the school year and make the tuition. Even for Private schoo tuition oneshould be able to earn the money this way and make tuition. mY child has worked almost full time and only made $14 k that does not come close to paying the $50-60k needed for private college tuition.

This would completely put an end to the ITT, Devry, etc.. Scams

OriginalProf
OriginalProf

@anothercomment 

Colleges will always have to charge fees in addition to tuition, for they aren't simply classroom machines where students sit in the classes to be educated and then go home. Tuition only covers the cost of academic instruction, and nothing else.

anothercomment
anothercomment

The California System was free until the late 70's and early 80's . Even the UT system was only $5 per credit hour in 1982- 1986 for Medical School. I went to a Private University in Washington, DC 1978 -1982 ( tuition their was 3,200 to 6,400 by senior year ) A friend I graduated with returned home to Texas to attend University of Texas at Austin Medical School. not her classmate and I met up with him in San Antonio in 20001 and he told us it was an easy decision to move back to Texas and attend Medical School when the tuition was $5 per credit hour. He also recounted to us that the lack of debt that he accumulated allowed him to work at a clinic in a lower income working class area of Dallas.

He said that at first he was burnt out from years of school and just did a one year general medicine residence and then thought he would work a year or two and go back and do a speciality clinic. He was hired by an older doctor to basically work in his industrial area clinic that had occupational medicine cases ( from small business sending workers comp cases) then the folks who paid cash for visits that lived in the houses nearby. He ended up liking it. He said without the low aka $5 per credit hour tuition, he never could have stayed in this model of medicine that is needed by the working class.

This is why we need free public coLlege education. pRimary care doctors.

i was also able to get a full scholarship for graduate school to a land grant college for my Masters degree in Engineering. i choose to work in Public Service and turn down offers that were double, because their are people who like giving back to the world.

EuroYankee
EuroYankee

This is actually a FEDERAL affair.


The public colleges and universities that Bernie wants to make "tuition free" were established using Federal Land Grants back in the 1800's (under the Morrill Act). As part of their charter, they were to offer tuition free educations to in-state taxpayers – just like anyone who lives in a city or town gets to attend that town’s High Schools “tuition free.” This is not a radical concept!!

.

Anyway, these public universities thrived, people were educated and these institutions stayed tuition free for over 100 years. That's right -- until the mid 1960's you could have gone to UCAL Berkeley or UCLA for FREE.  What happened in the 1960's? Well, Ronald Reagan and other conservative State Governors wanted to cut taxes and maintain balanced budgets -- so ... they introduced tuition to the previously free public colleges. Nice, huh? 

So DO NOT frame this proposal as some sort of radical "leftist" idea - Bernie Sanders simply wants to turn those public colleges and universities back into the truly "public" schools that they were originally established to be, and the way they functioned for a century before radical "rightists" decided to start making people PAY for what was supposed to be a public service.

For a list of all the public universities that used to be “tuition free” before Reagan and other conservatives took over, click here:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_land-grant_universities

bu2
bu2

@EuroYankee


Do you have a link demonstrating your claim that they were free until the mid 60s?

Belinda51
Belinda51

They were free until the early 80's, not the 60's. Look at California's budget deficit now. They've been giving away things for far too long.

OriginalProf
OriginalProf

@EuroYankee 

I think you're a bit mixed-up about the nature and purpose of land-grant universities. Yes, they were founded back in the 1800s when the federal government donated land to the states for state schools--BUT these were completely devoted to the practical education of citizens in agriculture and technology. They were not what would be considered universities today that offer training in the liberal arts and the sciences. The "education" that was offered related to better methods of agriculture, animal husbandry, etc.  UGA's extension courses for 4-H clubs and farmers are a holdover from that time (and UGA was a land-grant school).


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Land-grant_university

bu2
bu2

@Belinda51

They were not free in the 70s or 80s.


I've never heard of them being free in the 60s and earlier before EuroYankee's claim.  That's why I asked for some link.  Just because EuroYankee has posted the same thing 6 or 7 times in this thread doesn't mean its true.

Belinda51
Belinda51

I didn't say it was free in the 80's. In 1982 is when the CA legislature began looking at charging tuition. I can't link from where I am, but check the NYT archives or google it.

Two my siblings went free from 1962 through 1968. Those are the only years I know about.

Belinda51
Belinda51

Yes, I should have said I was only talking about California. I'm not very familiar with the history of land grant colleges. My family moved to Georgia before I got the free tuition! :(

OriginalProf
OriginalProf

@Belinda51 

I can remember back in the 1960s or 70s singing that old song, "California Dreaming," while in the cold Midwest, but never realizing its full meaning!

bu2
bu2

Nobody is addressing the obvious question.  Since our public colleges are state colleges, why is the federal government talking about providing free public education?  Why not let the states decide what they want to do?


When I was in school in Texas, it was heavily subsidized.  Our out of state tuition was lower than some other state's in state tuition.  It was only $200 a semester (about $600-$800 in today's dollars).  Now its about $5,000 a semester.


In Georgia with the HOPE scholarship, the state IS paying for it for the better students.

An American Patriot
An American Patriot

Ms. Downey, you're a very smart liberal person and I, along with most everyone else, knows you aren't buying Bernie's "free college for everyone" pile.  Nothing is free, except for the air we breathe and it's polluted, just like this half-baked scheme that's not going anywhere (kinda like Bernie himself).  


Everyone, please tune in to the FNC to look at and listen to the Benghazi Hearings.  Today could have a huge bearing on the future of our country.

Belinda51
Belinda51

Ah....conservative, right wing. Got it now.

booful98
booful98

@An American Patriot Plenty (most? all?) civilized countries do this. Let's think about what we do that they do not...hmmm....could it be they don't use up the majority of the country's budget funding the Military Industrial Complex and fighting pointless wars?

OriginalProf
OriginalProf

@An American Patriot 

Yes, for these partisan Hearings, that have already been held 4 times before with Ms. Clinton acquitted of any wrong-doing, inform watchers of the real nature of today's Republican party. I am sure that many Americans watching will decide to vote for Hillary.

EuroYankee
EuroYankee

@An American Patriot If you are a patriot you should be outraged that a cabal of conservative radical right wing governors decided to overturn the original charters of the eLand Grant colleges - that were established with Federal Land Grants in order to make citizens pay for what was supposed to be part of the  Commons. For 150 years these colleges were tuition free. It is only in the last 50 years that that changed.

bu2
bu2

@EuroYankee @An American Patriot

Your math isn't very good.  1862+150=2012+50=2062.


Now I realize yesterday was Back to the Future Day, but time travel is still not possible.

Belinda51
Belinda51

LOL!!! Hard to do a real investigation when the White House refuses to release info requests for 3 years and no one knew about her private email. No worries, the White House released them last week. "it was a video." Seriously??????

liberal4life
liberal4life

State universities are all subsidized entities. State residents already get "discounted" tuition compared to out-of-staters.  So, I don't see the idea of making public university tuition free for in-state residents.  In many states, including Georgia, the state has been funding higher education less and less. Many schools, which used to be state-supported colleges/universities, are now only state-located schools.


Of course, tuition isn't the only cost of attending colleges. In fact, tuition may be a small piece of the whole pie. I think the promise of free tuition sounds good, but I'm not sure how much real effect it has to make colleges/universities affordable.

OriginalProf
OriginalProf

@liberal4life 

I agree. In addition, tuition doesn't cover the full cost of teaching students. There's also the cost of the administrative apparatus serving the students, the cost of staffing and maintaining the buildings...on and on.  And also, realistically, once states saw that the federal government was paying the tuition, they would most likely to lower their funding allocations to state schools.  (Any excuse will do.)

booful98
booful98

@liberal4life I think tuition is the biggest chunk of college expenses. I am pretty sure a resourceful student can very likely fund living and other expenses. And it will be way more feasible for parents to help out with an apartment and books than for the insanity that is the tuition bill.

EuroYankee
EuroYankee

@liberal4life The schools were formed using Federal Land Grants and they were supposed to be tuition free from the start. And so they were - from 1820 to 1970, when Reagan led the move to make students pay.

PJ25
PJ25

Hell yeah!  Free college degrees!  I want a free car and free house too!  I wouldn't mind a free Sirus SR22 as well and I'll even settle for a used one.


Bernie 2016 baby! 

OriginalProf
OriginalProf

@PJ25 

I guess you haven't taken a look lately at college/university fees, the cost of textbooks, room and board....Free tuition would NOT eliminate student debt.

booful98
booful98

@OriginalProf @PJ25 Lets take a look at this.


I just looked up UGA's tuition and it is roughly $11,000. The typical residence hall cost is $5,500 and the meal plan is about $4,000. If we go with these figure, tuition is more than half the total costs and I am pretty certain a student can come up with cheaper digs. I think it will go a LOOOOOOONG way at making college a reality.

OriginalProf
OriginalProf

@booful98 @OriginalProf @PJ25 

Inaccurate: that figure for UGA that you give is for its in-state tuition and fees. UGA didn't break down its fees, but GSU has and these are fees for services that UGA must also provide: Student Activity, Campus Programming (Radio), Athletic (I'll bet that UGA's is bigger than GSU's!) Transportation (lease of parking spaces and shuttle buses), Health, Student Recreation, Student Center, Library, Technology, and International Education (Students Abroad programs). Fees can add up to as much as tuition alone, which only covers the academic costs of instruction.


The Ga. Regents set the cost of tuition, but the schools set their fees. When the state cuts its funding as it has been doing for at least the past decade, the only way that the schools can re-coup their losses is through their fees.

Looking4truth
Looking4truth

Nothing will diminish the value of a college degree like giving one to everybody who wants one.  Associate and bachelors degrees won't mean a thing, much like high school diplomas and you'll need a MBA to manage a McDonald's. 

Looking4truth
Looking4truth

@OriginalProf @Looking4truth  No, it doesn't.  However, the next thing will be guaranteed admission.  Then, college instructors will be so overwhelmed that grades will be handed out like Halloween candy just to get through all the paperwork. The sheer volume of students will reduce college to a series of multiple choice exams because no one will have time to read the papers of 200-300 students in an intro class.  (No, I don't think there are enough TA's in the world to help get through them.) 


Multiple choice tests written by testing companies are the signature achievement of the last 15 years of federal education policy.  Do we really want to make our college system go down that road? 

OriginalProf
OriginalProf

@Looking4truth @OriginalProf 

If any government entity ever demanded guaranteed college admission, they would be faced by a united opposition from the colleges like you wouldn't believe. And if it ever went through, there would be a massive resignation of professors and flight to private colleges like you wouldn't believe. Trust me on that!

booful98
booful98

@Looking4truth Just because they don't have to pay for tuition doesn't mean the degrees are given away without work. Most civilized countries in the world have free higher education. Are you telling me every German that graduated from public university got his/her degree just by stopping by the office and picking one up?

RealLurker
RealLurker

@OriginalProf @Looking4truth Free tuition would not guarantee passing grades in reputable colleges.  However, if the tuition is being paid for by third parties.  Some schools will do WHATEVER it takes to keep students in school.  If that means giving passing grades to undeserving students, some places will do it.

EuroYankee
EuroYankee

@Looking4truth You don't get it - once everyone can go, it will mean a MERITOCRATIC selection process.It will be harder to get accepted. let;s say that a school can accept 2000 students into its Freshman class. Well, where they might have 5000 applicants now  - because only 5000 can pay - they may get 20,000 once money no longer makes the difference. You will have to be smarter than everyone else.


By the same token, it means that every kid, no matter where he lives or how much money his parents have, will know that if he works hard and plays by the rules and he studies, he will be able to go to college. THAT, my friends, is DEMOCRACY.

EuroYankee
EuroYankee

@booful98 @Looking4truth There will be competition. A public college that has room for 1000 Freshmen every year isn't gouge to start accepting 10,000. Rather, they will take the best 1000 out of a larger field of applicants. 

EuroYankee
EuroYankee

@RealLurker @OriginalProf @Looking4truth Are you nuts? Free tuition will revolutionise the entire system. A school can only handle so many students -- that means competition, but competition based on virtuous factors - you will need good grades, and you had better do well, get good grades, keep your nose clean because guess what - there are gouge to be 100 kids behind you ready to take your place if you screw up. 


It will shift the balance of power. Right now teachers are afraid to "offend" students because the schools desperately need the kids' tuition. Once that doesn't matter, the power will nevert back to the teachers where it belongs.

OriginalProf
OriginalProf

@EuroYankee @Looking4truth 

A significant problem with your argument here is that college admission is NOT simply based on GPAs and test scores. It is not simply based on "smartness." There is a long history of debate on this, that the Supreme Court has ruled on several times. There are other factors that colleges deem significant for the education of their students, such as racial, gender, and economic diversity. Free tuition wouldn't really affect this very much. A rising tide affects all boats equally.