“While 79 percent of millennials support free college, only 64 percent of Gen Xers and 49 percent of boomers feel similarly.”

So,millennials, those kids NOW in college or just leaving college, are very for free tuition (of course) but GenXers, a large part of those with high college debt, are less for it.   Could it be because they have been out of college longer and are paying taxes now?

MY QUESTION IS THIS;  HOW COULD WE MAKE COLLEGE REALISTICALLY MORE AFFORDABLE?    Many European countries have free university (and GOOD educations), but that’s rather like saying “Many European countries have nudity in TV commercials” and condemning us for being puritanical, when my response is always “They’re USED to it, we aren’t founded on that kind of behavior so we’re shocked by it.”  European countries are used to free college……’s already figured into their very high taxes, and their profs probably don’t earn as much as ours do.  I would bet on that.

A college teacher friend of mine who taught at a State University for 40 years is retired and now makes $60,000 a year in retirement from the State.  A friend of hers gets $100,000.  My friend also gets incredible health care free and probably gets Social Security on top of it (I’m afraid to ask her because my head would explode!)

Did you know one university bunch has announced to their administrators that “our profs must give us better than C’s because our parents didn’t pay this high tuition for C’s”?   Yup.



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35 Responses to Free COLLEGE?

  1. Bennett Hypothesis from a NYT article:

    Your theory about the cost of college, which came to be known as the Bennett Hypothesis, seems more relevant today than when you formulated it more than a quarter century ago. Please explain it.

    I postulated that the availability of a large amount of federal money was driving up tuition, and in the long run making it more difficult for poor students to go. It’s common sense. The more you subsidize something, the more you get of it. And almost every college chancellor or president I met felt that their obligation was to expand and create more departments, more centers and more graduate programs. In 1970, the bottom quartile economically constituted 12 percent of the student population. In 2010, the bottom quartile constituted 7.3 percent. Poor kids look at the tuition — $40,000, $50,000 a year — and say, “Forget it.”


  2. If you want publicly funded HE, you need to have fewer students enrolled in HE.


  3. geeez2014 says:

    Ed..”It’s common sense” throws me. Can’t that federal money be used to help slash tuitions for a while instead of new departments, more centers, more graduate programs?
    When the prep school I’m associated gets money in, much of it goes toward supporting our lower income students (we have extremely rich kids who pay full ticket, and we have extremely poor kids whose parents pay about 1/5 of the ticket. Two of those kids who graduated 3 years ago are Hispanic, parents never went to High School but they work hard at jobs which seem to at least support their in-tact families, and one boy got a full scholarship to Carnegie-Melon and the other to Case Western…..BECAUSE we lowered our tuitions to help them through high school.
    If you could ONLY know how proud I am particularly of one of them, Arturo.
    Yes, we spend some money that’s raised (we get no federal funding…God forbid we ever do because they can get the “Christian” out of our school in that case) on new departments or science equipment, laptops for the kids, etc., but we do take moneys and allocate toward high achieving kids who can’t pay the full price. We do not WANT an all white, all Christian, all rich school, though we could have that in a heartbeat, considering our location. I’m very very proud of that.


  4. geeez2014 says:

    convergentsum, i have no idea what HE is nor do I understand your point…please explain!


  5. fredd says:

    Free college in Europe isn’t free. They pay for it as you suggested, with exorbitant taxes, and their lives are diminished significantly accordingly. In addition, the U.S. subsidizes Europe with our defense umbrella, payed for by U.S. tax payers. This is why Europeans for the most part don’t have fleets of B-52’s, battleships, divisions of soldiers under arms, etc. All wildly expensive, and the Europeans let Americans shoulder that burden. They use the funds that would have been required for tank divisions, and instead squander it on all of their wonderful social programs, including ‘free college.’

    Nothing is free, Z.

    Regarding out of control college costs here in the US: remove any and all government involvement in higher education. No more land grants, no more federal money whatsoever. Let the market determine which institutions flourish and which ones fail.

    Free market reforms; the work every time they are tried.


  6. bocopro says:

    Simple: trade schools. Just how many PhDs in basket weaving or African-American studies
    or 17th century French lesbian poetry do we really need?

    What we NEED are schools that can teach skills in the fundamentals: mechanics, electricity, plumbing, carpentry, agriculture, shipping, farming and maintaining the oceans.


  7. I believe convergentsum means:
    HE is Higher Education.
    If you want to make it free, you can’t give it to everyone. You can’t afford to.


  8. Bennett says that it is an administrator’s interest to increase their administration to justify their own wage increase.
    They would rather increaes their department than cut costs.


  9. Silverfiddle says:

    Gen-X’er here will kids in college… Our over-priced education system is a result of our prosperity. You can get a fine college education in Mexico City, Munich, or Bogota. The standards there are higher (people actually flunk), and they don’t indulge in the useless classes and degrees the US has come to specialize in.

    Also, colleges overseas are not the amenities-rich pleasure palaces our college campuses have become. A typical overseas college is a building with professors inside conducting classes. No dorms, no student halls, gyms, palatial facilities and well-manicured grounds, etc.

    My kids did their undergrad work at the local community college and are finishing up at the local state college.

    Unless you’re going to be a research scientist, ambitious international diplomat, or a Wall Street high roller, nobody cares where you went to college.


  10. SF said ” nobody cares where you went to college.”
    In many cases, “or if you went to college.”
    Bennett’s book “Is College Really Worth It?” with David Wilasol points that out.
    Many tradesmen, like myself, make more money than college grads, with no tuition loans to pay off.
    And I’m in upper mansgement with 2 credits shy of an associate: Creative Writing and Poly Sci.
    I think I’ve got those covered.


  11. Mal says:

    If a smart student earned a 4.0 avg. but financially unable to afford college, there are plenty of scholarships available. If not, you go into debt, like one of our grandson’s wife, who graduated with $250,000 in debt which she, as a doctor in the E.R. of a hospital, is now paying off at $2,500 per month. Our grandson also has accumulated debt for his education which they also are paying off. Plus they now have 3 children and a mortgage on a home they purchased. Its tough, but it is part of life in a free society. It still beats the alternative.


  12. geeez2014 says:

    Fredd, I know nothing is free, but nothing could feel freer than the excellent free universities in Germany, at least, something of which I know a LOT. I also know that their taxes are higher than ours; I also know their quality of life is far higher than ours. They almost all take month long vacations and they have elaborate vacations. Their senior care is amazing. Germany has always done something very right in the care of their young and old.
    This is why I mention, this free college doesn’t work here; we aren’t used to the types of taxes we will HAVE to pay…they are, and it’s not as high as ours WILL BE.
    Their healthcare is NOT free, as our media and our professors would have us believe….but for those who have nothing, it’s far better than ours is.

    I agree with you on letting the universities make it on their own….

    Ed, thanks… That matches my theory (based on first hand knowledge of the German system again) that NOT EVERYONE NEEDS COLLEGE….some do less well having gone.
    Abitur is a test all German kids take and it determines where they will go…university or trade training. And their trade training (mechanic, electrician, carpenter) is FIRST CLASS and LONG and they work HARD……it’s benefited them and their country. We have little opportunity for kids to do well with their hands, or really make something of themselves from having worked FIVE YEARS to understand that trade….and our country is diminished for the low quality junk we bring in to substitute for what our people used to make SO WELL.
    “HE”…I’m supposed to know that 🙂

    Bennett’s right…and that’s not just in education. “if you get the money, you’d better use it because if you don’t, you won’t get it next year” it’s destroying our institutions.

    SF: Your kids are doing it right. And you are SO RIGHT…I know Munich VERY well and their universities are just buildings popped up on the major beautiful street down the center of Munich….brass tacks. THAT building..THIS building…no real quads, no student halls…nothing manicured, but a beauty in and of themselves. THESE are buildings of higher learning, not places to coddle and appease like we do.

    Mal, that’s a hefty debt….hard to pay off. But necessary.
    And yes, there are PLENTY of scholarships available and most are not known about…pretty obscure scholarships sources do exist.

    As most of you know, I’m associated with a Christian prep School here in my area and most are prepped well enough for amazing universities all over the country.
    SOme of them just don’t want to go…or at least not go YET, so they go to Santa Monica Community College….I push that for those kids because they get their breadth classes taken, they live at home so there’s no dorm cost, and the University of California’s all over this state take them right in after 2 years…….but at least they’ve completed a lot of that requirement for FREE.


  13. John M. Berger says:

    Nothing of value is FREE, nothing!


  14. Imp says:

    Bottom line…what’s the real value of a “free” education? What would those degrees mean to their potential employers? Or…to themselves if it was handed to them?


  15. Mal says:

    What works in Germany won’t work here, Z. It can’t because they are one people united with one heritage and belief. They have national pride. Here, we accept all the different beliefs from around the world, plus have been dealing with the aftermath of bringing Blacks here under slavery which, based on the way things haven’t improved over the past 150 years, will probably continue for a long time, if not forever.


  16. Imp says:

    @Mal…”things haven’t improved over the past 150 years..”

    Well noted and not likely to improve over the next 150 either. 20 Trillion dollars later and we have only that magical 10% who have truly taken advantage of the opportunities that are presented to them. The rest? Just piss and moan about ‘privilege’.


  17. geeez2014 says:

    There is huge value in free education…And I think we’re ALL understand that we mean FREE TO THE STUDENT, obviously it costs their society in taxes! FREE TO THE STUDENT…Germany. France.
    Mal, not sure that differing opinions affect the concept….they really don’t have much national pride, by the way. Their liberals are totally mired still in the Third Reich guilt and friends my age were raised NOT to feel pride because they should feel ashamed, something most Americans don’t know. A German friend once said “You’re so lucky you have the 4th of July and other things during which your country celebrates …we couldn’t do that for so many years it’s kind of gone”. Yes, it is.
    We all have to admit NAZISM trumps Slavery….you mention slavery, it gets terrible responses, mention NAZIS and it’s a VISCERAL terrible response. The German education system has thrived in spite. Heck, when Germans fight against the ‘refugees’, there are calls of the FOURTH REICH STILL.
    But back on the subject; they get TERRIFIC educations ….


  18. Sparky says:

    The reason that college costs are so extravagant is because of government. Same for medicine. Get the government OUT of schools and OUT of medicine and the costs will reduce then level off. Government is the reason that everything is expensive and messed up.
    If I was a “millennial” my goal would be to learn a trade. Every other kind of profession, other than medicine and a few others, is totally useless. Many of these young folks are racking up huge debts that can never be repaid, all the while enriching the progressives in the school systems, and have no financially secure future.
    That’s my two cents. 😉


  19. John M. Berger says:

    “And I think we’re ALL understand that we mean FREE TO THE STUDENT, obviously it costs their society in taxes! FREE TO THE STUDENT…”

    “FREE” public education K-12 sure is a winner, isn’t it! “FREE” in the context of government controlled education is anything but “FREE”! Make no mistake, “FREE” secondary education, as envisioned by any politician, will be GOVERNMENT CONTROLLED and, eventually, very expensive. I DON’T WANT IT!


  20. Mal says:

    I didn’t realize it extended to most of the Germans today, Z. I thought Angela Merkel was one of the exceptions, not the norm. Guilt through association can be very strong, I guess. Too bad, too, because they have so much to offer, and to see it all being destroyed by terrorists…………
    How about the Japanese? Do THEY harbor the same guilt complex as the Germans, I wonder? Or did our Atomic bombing of two of their cities nullify those feelings?


  21. Imp says:

    OT…FGM up 500% in the US…over 500,000 young women and girls at risk right here. Know why? Sure we do. And with the DNC’s “war on women”…did we hear anything about real women’s rights other than the worn out bromide of equal pay? Sure they should get equal pay…but women have to stay in the workforce to achieve that noble goal.

    Just as Germany is being smothered with PC and cultural “awareness” cause of the importing of those savages..we too are remaining silent so as not to “offend” these truly barbaric practices.


  22. Bob says:

    When I went to college, I worked nights at radio/tv stations full time. It took six years to get my degree, and I was not the best student. Also, I had no debt when I graduated from my local metropolitan state university.

    When my kids went to college, I encouraged them to go to private schools to avoid those auditorium based Psych 101, etc type of classes with 150 students so often found in state schools. Small classes, I felt, were important. With their scholarships, and my hard work, they did well. They also had about $15 to$20K indebt.

    Now, it is even more expensive. Private schools that used to cost $12 to $18K per year are now in the $30K to $40K area. A top school goes for, well, I don’t even want to Google the cost.

    In my retirement I attended a local technical college, and formed the opinion that most kids should be attending those schools. They force you through the natural community college courses of English, basic maths, and social studies, along with the technical studies you want. Since I had two degrees, I opted for a certificate in Web Development. Other areas are computer programming, IT, nursing, cosmetology, and even truck driving.

    So, let’s make the community colleges and tech schools free (if we can) or have nominal costs, but demand superior academic performance to enter the four year institutions, which will not be free.


  23. geeez2014 says:

    Sparky, me too, on the trade.

    JMB; I’m not saying I want it free to the student, I was trying to clarify what “Free College” means free to the student….but that nothing is free. There’s a lot of our money spent to make it free to the student

    Mal, we have to remember Merkel is an East Germany baby whose family got out…it’s in her genes, this ‘supposed’ Conservative leader….Yes, I think the bombs on Japan nullified guilt….
    Of course, Dresden should have nullifed a lot, too, bombed horribly AFTER the war was declared over. But, the killing of six million can never and should never be nullified, of course.

    Imp: I, and most others, have trouble with acronyms that aren’t popular. FGM??
    And yes, we MUST stop remaining silent on what’s happening in Germany….funny you’d say that; it got me thinking; if this was a smaller country, some little socialist mecca, I’m guessing the US would be screeching about the attacks on its citizens. Where are we on GERMANY? I believe they don’t want us to know because it’s MUSLIMS doing the rapes and killings and no media venue which welcomes Obama’s ‘guests’ to our country wants us to know what’s coming here.

    Bob, I like your idea in the last paragraph….I’m not sure FREE but pretty reasonable for trade schools is a FABULOUS idea…


  24. Baysider says:

    You value what you earn or pay for – like Bob.
    What to do?
    1. Cut dead wood. The university of California has a slug of diversity officers and other useless parasites who all pull down over $100,000 a year + all those magnificent bennies. There are tons of these sucking the life out of colleges across the country.
    2. Let students benefit from the value of work. Many ARE working jobs. So account for those in some way. Then take a page from Booker T. Washington and make sure students do some useful work that also allows the campus to reduce staff.
    3. Cut federal aid and loan guarantees. Jimmy carter got these rolling. The program(s) exploded under Reagan who was too busy killing communism (non-domestically, alas). You can correlate the skyrocketing tuition starting in the 80’s with huge increases in federal monies. I’ve seen this spelled out in detail.
    4. Lower demand. OK- good luck with that one. The indoctrinators need that last 4 years to finish the job. That’s the main reason most kids are in college. Few jobs require a degree.
    Which means, 5. Overhaul K12 education to embue youngsters with virtue and critical thinking skills that make for the best employees. (Same problem as with #4)


  25. John M. Berger says:

    ““Free College” means free to the student”
    I know but every time I see or hear the word “FREE” it evokes all sorts of red flags and leads me to look for and consider what ulterior motives reside therein. On a somewhat different note, I have no interest, whatsoever, in my taxes going toward [someone] majoring in 15th Century Albanian Literature at some overpriced college/university; getting it for “FREE”.


  26. Imp says:

    FEMALE GENITAL MUTILATION I thought every women was aware of that particularly loathsome, barbaric practice?


  27. Imp says:

    BTW….( by the way ) on Germany….I hope this might be a good sign…?

    Gun Control Fail: Germany Has 4 Illegal Guns for Every Registered Firearm!

    Germany began its crackdown on guns back in 1928, when Hitler disarmed the German citizenry to prevent them from rebelling against Nazism.


  28. geeez2014 says:

    Imp…Right, I don’t know anything about female genital mutilation because I’ve never heard, or didn’t remember, anybody using just the initials. 🙂 By the way, I’m 100% positive half a million girls are in no danger of having that done to them. Rest assured.
    Not sure where you got the gun statistic; Germans have hunting guns, very very few others.

    Baysider…I like the idea of students working at the college to work off their tuition. FAT CHANCE. Remember, we have kids seeking psychological help for having had to read TRUMP sprayed on a wall. They’re too fragile to work these days 🙂
    Provocative list.

    JMB; Gotcha…great point about supporting worthless degrees $$$


  29. Imp says:

    Z..Rest assured…I didn’t make this up….

    Right from the CDC…Center for Disease Control. Read it yourself. And then tell me the Demrats are all about the women or give a crap.


  30. geeez2014 says:

    Imp; Rest assured, I believed you. I’d just never heard it referred to as FGM. All I said I have a problem with is your suggestion half a million American women need to worry about this.
    The Democrats couldn’t care LESS. Look at Hillary raking in the money from countries which treat women like they do!


  31. John M. Berger: that’s a shame, 15th century Albania was a very interesting place, and somewhat relevant to our current political situation. Firstly, because the Renaissance was an extraordinarily fruitful cultural episode which produced a lot of work that is interesting, also it is a period we would do well to emulate certain aspects of, so that perhaps we might produce some faint echo of its brilliance. And Albania is relevant because it was at that time overrun by an expanding Ottoman Empire — if you’re at all concerned about Muslims taking over in the West, you should pay attention to the attitudes and experiences of writers who fled Albania who lived through it in the past.
    In fact I haven’t read those authors and historians, and I don’t blame you for not doing so either. But it doesn’t take much imagination to understand why someone might want to, and why letting them do that, and keeping that discipline alive, can actually be of some value to the wider society. You would like only the rich or debt-tolerant to be able to pay up front to study these areas; I would like extend those opportunities to the most able.


  32. John M. Berger says:


    Thanks, I now stand corrected. OMG, what was I thinking!


  33. fredd says:

    Gotta take issue with your assertion that European’s standard of living is higher than Americans. I lived in Germany for 6 years. I had lots of German friends, and visited lots of their parent’s homes. Nearly half (I would estimate) of the Germans living in both Munich and Frankfurt have no cars. Almost all Germans live in apartments, not single family homes. These apartments are all small, perhaps 1000 sq ft, maybe smaller. They have no food storage systems (such as refrigerators) and must go shopping for meas every day. Their refrigerators that they do have are the size of dorm units, very tiny. If they do have a car, it is a tiny car, and they have to pay garage fees, because their apartments have no built in garages. Their taxes are enormous, and they pay value added tax on virtually everything (VAT). The virtual sales tax rate on purchases is perhaps 30%, give or take.

    Yes, they take long vacations. Is that a trade off for living like college students, most of them? I would most certainly say that the German standard of living was significantly below that of the average American’s, not even close.


  34. John M Berger: 😉


  35. Mal says:

    Fredd, as bad as that sounds, it apparently still is a lot better than what the Muslim migrants now invading Europe had in their home countries, huh? No country compares to ours, for sure.


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