The calls for free college are getting louder

Posted on July 22nd, 2014

With college costs reaching record levels and still rising, the idea of free college might sound like a pipe dream.

Some colleges offer free tuition to the very top students, but these scholarships are extremely competitive. And even with financial aid, most students usually end up paying large amounts for college and taking out student loans.

As student debt has topped $1.2 trillion and millennials have struggled to repay their loans, however, the calls for free college have gotten increasingly louder.

Free tuition plans on the rise

According to Hechinger Report, Tennessee will make its community colleges free beginning next year, and Oregon is considering the idea.

And a new report from the Lumina Foundation recommends that the first two years of public universities and colleges be free nationwide.

They call their proposal the “free two-year college option,” or F2CO.

To make this possible, the group recommends that billions of dollars in existing federal financial aid and some state money be redirected to make tuition, fees, books, and supplies free for the first two years of any two- or four-year public university or college.

Of course, college costs go beyond tuition and books. To cover living expenses, such as food and rent, students would be given stipends and jobs to help them avoid taking out student loans to pay for these essentials.

Full scholarships for needy students

A nonprofit called Redeeming America’s Promise goes even further than the first, proposing to give every lower- and middle-class student a scholarship to cover the full cost of college, for students attending both 2-year and 4-year colleges.

Under their plan, existing federal and state financial aid and tuition tax breaks would be redirected to give full tuition scholarships in specified amounts to every student from a family earning $180,000 a year or less. Community college students would be awarded $2,500 per academic year, and students attending four-year universities would receive $8,500 annually.

The plan even includes an incentive to help students graduate on time, something that’s been a major issue for America’s college students.

Currently, only one-fifth of students graduate from 4-year colleges on time, and only 4% of students at 2-year colleges do. To help students avoid getting off track from finishing their degrees, the scholarships would be limited to two years for an associate’s degree and four years for a bachelor’s degree.

Controlling college costs

And the proposal even goes as far as to put limits on college costs, something few have attempted to control.

Colleges and universities generally wouldn’t be allowed to raise their prices higher than the scholarship amounts, which would essentially force them to keep costs stable.

But there’s a catch–the scholarships would only cover the cost of tuition at public colleges. And it’s likely that public colleges will push back on the idea of controlling their prices, especially when many are already hurting for funding.

While we don’t know if any of these proposals will ever become a reality, it’s a good sign that there are more ideas on the table from higher education experts.

But until we see one of these ideas come to fruition, college-bound students and parents should know there are ways to reduce your college costs and avoid becoming another debt statistic.

If you’d like to learn how we can help you make college more affordable, call us toll-free at 1-888-234-3907 or fill out our contact form.

Category: College Costs

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