Social media has become a stomping ground for those who believe that the United States should provide its citizens free higher education. That the increased cost of universities and the subsequent loans they must acquire to attend these schools is a cost that is too much to bear. They point to systems all across the globe as examples where tuition is no longer required. However it seems that they have forgotten that the pursuit of a higher education is a choice. They do not have to attend and their argument that one must have a college degree to be successful is not true. Success is not something you are given, rather it is something you must earn, with or without a piece of paper.
The stories of college dropouts Bill Gates and Steve Jobs and their ability to revolutionize their respected industries are perfect examples. While they did not thrive in a traditional educational setting, they did surround themselves with like minded individuals and bet everyone’s future on their success or failure. Both Gates and Jobs are not unique. They do not hold the secret to finding success through independent learning. What made them unique was their fortitude to succeed.
As an educator I applaud those who seek a higher education. I believe the knowledge and experiences gained while in college prove to be invaluable later in life. However, I do not believe that these experiences can come without a cost.
Can a system be put in place where individuals can earn a tuition-free education? Yes, but we must not rely on the federal government to subsidize the costs necessary to run effective higher education institutions. In order for a tuition-free education to exist expect to see new taxes, higher fees, higher room and board, higher book costs, higher cost of campus meals, parking, bus fares, just to name a few. In addition to the elimination of low cost or previously free services, look for universities to implement stricter entry and enrollment qualifications.
At the end of the day, maintaining a tuition-free higher education system will end up costing far more than retaining the existing tuition-based model.
How can we then offer individuals incentives to pursue higher education?
Here is my idea: Scholarship for All.
Embracing the idea that hard work and stewardship should be rewarded, Scholarship for All sets out to provide a tuition-free environment for those individuals who meet and fulfill a specific set of requirements to earn tuition forgiveness.
- Only four years of tuition will be paid.
- Public, state-funded universities only.
- Students must meet the entry requirements of the school they are applying.
- Students must maintain a 3.2 GPA (grade point average) throughout their college career.
- Students must commit to four years of public service commencing immediately after graduation. A list of organizations and services will be selected by federal and state governments.
- Failure to maintain the required GPA will result in the immediate disqualification from the program.
- Failure to provide service will result in the immediate termination of tuition forgiveness and the individual will be required to pay the full tuition price plus interest.
- Failure to finish the four year program will result in the termination of tuition forgiveness, disqualification from the program with no opportunity to return.
- Previous public service cannot be used retroactively to fulfill the post-graduation requirements.
- Students will be required to sign a legal contract agreeing to all terms.
Veterans serving at least four years prior to attending a university will not be required to provide any additional service post graduation. If military service amounts to less than four years, that individual will need to complete the remaining years of public service required post graduation.