The Dream and Costs of Free College

During Tuesday’s debate, there was a big to-do over free college (or, rather, tuition-free college), and both Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders have put out plans that would cost between $35-70 billion annually, and the living expenses for students appear to cost them nearly $10,000. These numbers will be broken down and analyzed to death (if they haven’t been already), but there are huge political and cultural costs to this plan, as well.

Take, for example, the massive overhaul that would be required in federal funding of public colleges and the financial restructuring of state university systems. Every state college and university belongs to a state university system, and they are controlled by their own ruling bodies. This means that new policies for funding college aren’t just written at the federal level, but written at the state level and applied to these systems, and most, if not all, states have more than one system. To call this restructuring a bureaucratic nightmare would be an understatement, and to think it would happen overnight goes beyond wishful thinking.

Beyond bureaucracy, there is a huge cultural cost, as well. We currently have school systems that are failing our students. Public education in the United States has huge deficits that no initiative, be it Common Core State Standards or anything else, can fix. The Department of Education has tried to use federal funding to make their initiatives more appetizing to states. Now, take a completely restructured funding mechanism for colleges and universities, and take a Department of Education that really loves a plan that is untested and would force a major change in how classes are offered and taught. Universities would be hesitant to apply these changes, but the Department of Education could tie federal funding to acceptable of this plan. States, who would not have the ability fully fund their own schools otherwise, would have to accept or shut down universities.

This isn’t some random speculation, either. The Department of Education has already done this with Race To The Top money and Common Core.

This plan would definitely increase government spending and the size of government overall, but this is a plan that does a lot more than that. We’ve seen the IRS, the FBI, and other federal bodies become weaponized in modern history. The Department of Education is fast on its way to doing the same thing, and the Democrats want to add public colleges and universities to their arsenal. If you want to decrease the cost of higher education, more opportunities for competition and the elimination of useless programs would be a much better start.

Maybe we can start cutting costs by not paying six figures a year for someone to tell you the inherent racism of sex toys.