WATCH | Circa Campus gets reaction about free tuition and ask the big question, should taxpayers pay for it?
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How did we get here? The development of free tuition as an idea and practice stretches back to the early 1900s when Arizona’s constitution began requiring that state colleges make school as nearly free as possible. According to Politifact, some colleges and universities in the United States were tuition free, such as institutions in the state of California, where free tuition was offered to in-state students until the 1970s, with an "incidental fee" starting in 1921.
Former President Obama, UC Irvine
Who's making a difference? To some politicians, free tuition creates opportunity to revive low and middle-income families in the U.S. As former President Obama and a major proponent for free tuition stated, "We agree that real opportunity requires every American to get the education and training they need to land a good-paying job." New York City Governor Cuomo further stimulates the conversation with a reality that seems to become more apparent as the years pass, "Today, college is what high school was -- it should always be an option even if you can't afford it.”
Governor Cuomo, NYC (D)
The Future: Time will tell the direction of this initiative, but programs such as Tennessee’s "Promise" provide an opportunity to analyze how such an initiative affects the population. Tennessee Governor Haslam stated that his goal is to raise the percentage of degree-holding residents from the current 39 percent to 55 percent by the year 2025. The Promise initiative, and others like it, such as New York’s "Excelsior Scholarship," and Oregon’s "Promise" program are spearheading the free tuition realm.
Governor Haslam, Tennessee (R)
The Economy: Fortunately, we will soon be able to collect and study data from these programs and determine if this highly controversial method of stimulating the low and middle class fulfills its duty. Thus far, Tennessee has seen graduates start to walk the stage from their free tuition initiatives. "I wanted to finish what I started and show my girls that it can be done," said Kristina Wilson, mother of three girls who graduated from college recently; in large part due to the assistance provided by the state program.
Oregon’s Promise program expects to see a 7,000 student enrollment in college following its inaugural launch last year. it will represent a 25 percent increase in recent graduates enrolling in community college according to OregonLive.com. States with free tuition programs will continue to paint a narrative over the next few years.
"So let us wage a global struggle against illiteracy, poverty, and terrorism, and let us pick up our books and pens."
—-Malala Yousafzai, education activist
Making a change: Malala Yousafzai, a Pakistani activist for female education and the youngest-ever Nobel Prize, went on to say, "They are our most powerful weapons.”
Education is the tool that drives growth and development, fulfillment and advancement. The landscape of today's market is in a constant flux and there are segments of the population that need resources such as free tuition to level the playing field and create new opportunities.
Free college tuition is creating growth throughout the United States. The effects of such programs will begin to resonate throughout the country.
(The article was provided by Circa Campus in partnership with GenFKD who has fellows on college campuses around the nation. Circa Campus contributor, Nicole Soto contributed to this article.)