Why Free College Is a Big Mistake: 4 Surprising Reasons the Politicians and Media Won’t Tell You

Craig Huey Education 1 Comment

Nationwide, progressives of all stripes are pushing for free community college tuition.

It sounds great – on the surface. And voters seem to love the idea.

But it’s a terrible idea.


Here are 4 consequences of free college tuition you will never hear from the progressive media or from socialist-leaning politicians:

  1. Providing free community college tuition will increase the demand for community college education.

This sounds like a good thing … until you consider the unintended consequences.

Whenever anything is offered for free, demand for it skyrockets. This will result in several unplanned-for consequences:

  • Classes will become overcrowded
  • More teachers will need to be hired
  • More taxpayer funding and government subsidies will be needed
  1. Providing free tuition will attract less serious and less qualified students.

With the increased enrollment in community colleges, students who aren’t prepared for college educationally will apply.

Dropout rates will increase … graduation rates will decrease.

For example, only 30% of California community college students graduate or transfer to a 4-year college within 6 years of enrolling. And this low percentage is without free tuition.

  1. Providing free services reduces the quality of those services.

When demand for a service increases but cost of the service remains the same, quality decreases.

When class sizes increase … and the range of student knowledge and preparedness also increases:

  • Teachers must teach to a lower level
  • Teachers have more papers to grade
  • Educational quality goes down
  1. Offering free tuition will encourage waste and inefficiency in already-bloated state higher education bureaucracies.

With greater enrollment in community colleges will come greater state government subsidies.

Community college districts will be tempted to spend the additional funds on themselves rather on students.

One California community college district receives $17,000 to educate each student. But much of that money is diverted to administrative staff…

While enrollment was declining between 2012 and 2017, the district hired 23 additional administrators.

What do you think? Email me at craig@craighuey.com

Here are the rest of this week’s articles:

Comments 1

  1. I thought some of the arguments against free tuition were interesting. When my great aunt Gertrude attended U.C. Berkeley in 1888 her tuition was free. The requirements were California residency and meeting certain academic standards. When I attended the same University in 1948 the admission requirements were the same and I did not pay tuition. It is my understanding that the University of California schools did not charge tuition until the 1960s,This included the State Normal Schools and later the California State Universities which were under the administration of U.C. Berkeley. The College of the Siskiyous, a community college has had a program for free tuition for high school graduates of Siskiyou County. Interesting information to think about.

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