April 25, 2019

Why "free" college isn't a good idea

This whole campaign platform of "free" college and forgiven student loan debt is a false promise. 

I can *almost* see some sort of partial debt forgiveness depending on your GPA (see below), career field, job placement, etc. Almost. But it'd be a slippery slope if the government starts attempting to pay off personal debt. Personal debt is the result of personal choices. If I had thought that the government was going to pay off my student loans, I would've went to a more expensive school. I knew I'd be saddled with loans on a (God-willing) teacher's salary, so I made the choices that reflected that fact.

Mortgages that are too high with too much interest or are upside-down are also a result of that student loan debt: people were buying houses 10 years ago that they couldn't afford, as soon as they got a real job, and then they have a too-high house payment on top of that student loan debt.

Because they've been busy paying off debt, they've been using credit cards. Is credit card debt forgiveness next?

To advertise "free" college is ridiculous. You can't promise that because someone. has. to. pay. for. it. There is no incentive to get yourself through college in 4 years, accruing as little debt as possible, if taxpayers are footing the bill. It's creating even more of an enabled population. I don't care if college is more expensive than it used to be; go to college for something you can actually use to get a job. If you major in English and hope to become a writer, that's your own fault. Major in English, become a teacher, and then become a writer. Find a job that will pay for your advanced degree if you want one.

We've become far too wishy-washy. I knew I wouldn't make a lot of money as a teacher. But I knew I'd be able to get a job eventually because it was an actual career path.

I'm telling no one to work their way through college. Even 15 years ago, I couldn't have done that and costs have only gone up.
I'm telling no one to "learn a trade". Sometimes college is the best option, not trade school.
I'm saying that if you want to go to college, go to college for something that will result in an actual job. You know, learn to code or something.

I also saw something that said 18 year olds are going to college because "all the neighbors' kids are" and that's why new adults don't jump into the real world right away. Going to college is safe and keeps you under your parents' umbrella for a few more years. I get it. I did this. I even lived at home during college in order to save money and I had virtually no living expenses. That was a choice I made because I understood that college was expensive and I didn't want to spend my life paying it off. It would've been much more fun, I'm sure, to live on campus. It was hard to justify when the campus was only 40 minutes away, though.

But I also graduated with tuition loan debt and it was paid off within four years because of the choices Scott and I made after getting married. Scott graduated with more debt that me. It was also paid off within four years. We need to teach 18 year olds to look for careers, not majors.

When I mentioned this to Scott, he said Yeah, I paid your college loans off. True. We used the extra salary he received (combat pay, hazardous duty pay, separation pay) from his 11 months in Afghanistan in 2012 to pay off all of our loan debt. Of course, that was a choice we made. We could've bought new cars or shiny things or taken multiple vacations or just squirreled it all away in a savings account...and we'd still, to this day, be paying off both of our student loans each month, dragging it out and making it as painful as possible.

If you really want to make a case for pseudo-free college, perhaps, after college is said, done, and graduated, those who made it through with a 3.75 GPA or higher could have a portion of their loans forgiven.

THAT is incentive. You need to have some sort of skin in the game. "Free" college isn't a good idea because it's not requiring anything of anyone and is holding no one accountable or responsible for their choices.

Also. College? Not a basic need. That's the type of misleading language that results in everyone going to college to major in whatever they feel like because they feel like they should.


  1. The idea of free college in the USA is legitimately scary to me. I think, as you said, there would be serious issues with people majoring in whatever they wanted to without thinking about job earnings/consequences. Besides, already so many college students are being really stupid and wasting their time by skipping classes, not studying, etc...how much worse would it be if they never had to pay for it? College should be an earned privilege, not a right, because that's the only way that adults are fully going to appreciate it.
    My parents basically had three rules: you have to get a bachelor's degree, we're not going to help pay for it, and you can't take out any loans. So far three kids have graduated and two are mid-way through.

    I actually did go to college for free because I got a hefty scholarship due to being in the top 1% of students admitted by test scores, that's just something my college did, gave varying scholarships depending on what percentile you were in your year. Angel decided to go to college after a summer working construction and knowing he wasn't tough enough for that--he got scholarships too, but also did take out loans, but going into nursing and moving to a state with a high need for nurses right after graduation (lots of overtime available!!) meant that he paid off his loans before we got married.
    My siblings actually have worked their way through college. They all have lived in my grandparents' basement and help take care of my grandparents (grandma has Alzheimer's and Grandpa isn't able to do much anymore). They all have had jobs working at the same shop at the mall, the owner loves them so much, he will hire anyone in my family (he's hired 4 of my siblings and one cousin). They did as many credits as possible at the community college and transferred to the state university where they can pay in-state tuition. People say "it's not possible" but if you fight hard enough it might be possible. Living with my grandparents doesn't make it easy, in fact where they live, rent would probably be cheaper if they moved into their own little apartment, but taking care of my grandparents in their old age is important to them, and I'm glad that they can be there even when I'm far away.

    What bothers me is that my two little sisters both currently have boyfriends who have college degrees...and aren't using them, aren't interested in ever using them, do random side jobs and have no health insurance and have 5 figures of debt due to said degrees...and I don't really like this situation after they've worked so hard pursuing education degrees and are getting ready to start off in life responsibly...please don't hitch yourself to someone who doesn't have the same ethic.

  2. I so agree with this - and I have two kids preparing to graduate from high school in the next couple years. Free college tuition is not the answer and it's comparable to a participation trophy, in my opinion. My two have been told numerous times that I went about college the wrong way - I did work my tail off to get grants and scholarships and was able to get through 4 years with no debt ... but I ended up with a degree I couldn't use. I picked a major I liked, not a career-path that would pay bills ... and regret it immensely now. But to get free tuition right off the bat - where's the incentive to work hard?

  3. I feel like this just goes with the generation that is coming up that wins all the ribbons & there are no losers on a team. Too pampered... maybe its just me....

  4. I don't have much to add because I agree with you. 100%. It scares me when people bring up free college. Do they think it's just that easy? To say it's free? Nah, dude.

    I came from the generation where it was college or "you'll be working at McDonald's for your whole life." You just went to college, that's it. And there's guilt if you didn't. And thank goodness we were able to pay off my debts - but we paid them off, I didn't whine about them and ignore them. For my kids, I will always offer college as a realistic option, as long as it works in their goals. I will also offer up trade schools, or just working, or whatever. There are so many options.


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