By HARI AMOOR, junior
Throughout this ongoing presidential campaign, Senator Bernie Sanders has gained the support of many people, especially minority groups and younger voters. The central foundations of his campaign include his idea to refinance higher education for young people in America. The plan, which aims to eliminate undergraduate tuition at public colleges and universities, has been thoroughly considered by economists, statisticians, and Sanders himself. The true effectiveness of this plan can only be determined once it is implemented, but the minutiae of the plan are compelling: it will significantly reduce the inability of America’s youth to obtain a degree and therefore raise the education of the workforce, all without causing any national financial problems.
Before trying to form a conclusion on feasibility, however, we must realize the necessity of this plan. According to the United States Census Bureau, only 32.5% of Americans 25 and older have a Bachelor’s Degree and have the potential to earn at least $51,000 per year, the amount that US News and World Report estimates people holding Bachelor’s Degrees will make on average. It is quite apparent that people need this education because even entry-level jobs in the private sector require it. Unfortunately, many people in the US are either unable or unwilling to invest the exorbitant sums that colleges often require, and this is where Sen. Sanders’ plan comes into play. By making colleges uniformly free, Sanders ensures that people are able to achieve their educational and professional potential, whatever they may be.
Opposition to Sen. Sanders’ plan may argue that private colleges will experience setbacks if their public counterparts are made free. However, such a plan may have not only minimal repercussions but also benefits when regarding private colleges. Private colleges, as the name suggests, are governed by private interests; these private interests would have the power to use equity in the university the same way they would in a private sector company, including on themselves. In effect, the parents might not be contributing to the welfare of the college through the cost of tuition, but rather, to the wallet of a shareholder. Public universities, the target of the funding through Sanders’ plan, are not owned by private interests and are not subject to this flaw. By increasing the power of public universities over private ones, Sanders would successfully diminish the power of private interests and ensure that the students’ money is being put to good use. Additionally, the price of private colleges would drop in response to free alternatives, and these private interests would be forced to better manage their profits. Therefore, despite purported claims that Sanders’ plan would be detrimental to private universities, it can work to better the private college system.
Now that we have considered the necessity of the free college plan, we must prove that this plan is in fact feasible. Sanders estimates the cost of his plan to be $75 billion annually and states that two-thirds of that will come from a tax on Wall Street corporations and employees. Contrary to popular belief and major opposition, Sanders doesn’t expect Wall Street to generate the complete $75 billion per year in tax revenue to fund the plan on its own. The tax would, in reality, only be a small tax on speculative financial derivatives and such. In fact, Sanders plans to cover the remaining one-third through state funding. Although it is possible that states will be reluctant to fund this plan, the same was said when they were asked to fund the expansion of Medicaid in June 2015. In addition, states refusing to pitch in for the plan would not receive the tuition funds and subsequently see students flocking to other states that do endorse Sanders’ plan. When the state funds this plan, it would most likely do so through a progressive tax, which does not place a financial burden on the non-wealthy commoners the plan intends to help. As Sanders himself elucidated, “When Wall Street’s illegal behavior destroyed our economy, the middle class bailed them out. It is now time for them to help the middle class.”
Sanders has made it very apparent, through numerous press conferences, speeches, and open-question forums, that the College for All Act he would propose if elected to office would definitely change America for the better. The Act would make public college, something that is necessary for any aspiring professional in a rapidly modernizing workforce, free for all who would wish to attend it, and it would do so by holding the highly volatile and self-serving Wall Street accountable for its responsibilities to the country. Sanders’ college plan is something that is vital for America as a whole, and we as a population must make sure that it is implemented.
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