I attend Fordham University, a private university in the Bronx. I commute to school because I can't afford to take out more loans than I already do. Granted, I’ve received scholarships because of my grades, but they don’t cover my whole tuition. I am nineteen years old and I have already amassed the debt of a forty year old. I work part-time and the money I make covers the bills I have to pay. I come from a middle class family, but my dad can't afford to pay off my college loans. I’m not complaining because I want my dad to pay my loans off for me; rather I am complaining because while my dad can't pay my loans off (which, believe me, he wants too), he’s about to start paying off someone else’s.
During the election, Bernie frequently advocated for free college. Now, if he knew enough about economics he would know it simply isn’t feasible. Luckily for him, he is seeing his plan enacted by Cuomo in NY. Cuomo has just announced that in NY, state public college will be free.
Before we go any further, it’s important to understand what ‘free’ means. Nothing is free; every single government program is paid for by the taxpayers. If you don’t make enough to have to pay taxes, then something like this doesn't bother you. If you live off welfare and don't pay taxes, then something like this doesn't bother you. When someone offers someone something free, it’s easy to take it, like it, and advocate for it, simply because you are not the one paying for it.
Cuomo’s free college plan will cost $163,000,000 in the first year (Did that take your breath away too?). Now, in order to pay for this, NY state will increase their spending on higher education to cover these costs. Putting two and two together, if the state decides to raise their budget, they need money. If they need money they look to the taxpayers. The taxpayers are now forced to foot the bill for this program.
I think education is extremely important and useful. However, my feelings on the importance of education does not mean that I think it should be free. Is college expensive? Yes -- but more so for private universities. Public universities like SUNY Cortland cost around $6,470 per year for in-state residents. That is still significantly less than one of my loans for one semester. I’ve been told that maybe I shouldn’t have picked a private university, but like I said, I believe education is important. I want to take advantage of the education this country offers, and so I am going to choose the best university I could, which is how I ended up at Fordham. I am not knocking public universities, they are fine institutions, they are just not for me.
My problems with this new legislation lies in the following: Nowhere are there any provisions that force the student receiving aid to have a part time job. I work part time, my sister works part time, and plenty of my friends work part time. Working and going to school is stressful, but I do it because I need money. I need money to pay my loans off and buy my textbooks, among other things. The reason I need money is because my parents cant afford to pay off my loans and textbooks as well as both of my sisters'. There is absolutely no reason why every student who will be receiving aid is not forced to have a part time job, whether it be working in the school library or waitressing. We are setting up these young adults up for failure, allowing them to think someone else will always be there to foot their bills. It's ridiculous. What bothers me the most, though, is that my dad has to pay for this. Not only my dad, but plenty of senior citizens who don’t even have kids, among everyone else. The cost of living is only going up, yet paychecks rarely do the same. Further taxation is not a solution. The point of free college is to help young adults join the workforce and better our economy; however, people my parents' age are also needed to help better our economy. How are they supposed to do so when they can't spend their money because they are too busy paying taxes?
Free college is not free, the same way free healthcare isn’t free. There is only so much more the taxpayers can take. So to all the students about to get free college: get a part-time job, take personal responsibility, and take out a loan -- just like the rest of us do. The world isn’t going to coddle you much longer, so start acting like an adult.