Free College Doesn’t Go Far Enough for the Left

President Joe Biden’s $302 billion higher education plan seeks to usher in a new era of free community college for all Americans. This is on top of the more than $1 trillion the federal government spent on higher education, as of 2018.

According to the left, completely funding two years of every American’s higher education via community college is still woefully inadequate. In fact, it seems the left will never be satisfied when it comes to pushing the college-for-all model.

For example, take this New York Times column entitled “Community College Should Be More Than Just Free.” The writer, professor David L. Kirp, observes that after Tennessee made community college free in 2015, the graduation or transfer-to-university rate increased by three points, reaching a still-woeful 25 percent, a change he somehow manages to portray as a victory. Kirp concludes the best way forward is to go beyond free tuition—more free services should be included, including counseling, scheduling help, and monitoring of students’ academic performances to ensure they stay on track.

Higher education’s bureaucrats are increasingly eager to enmesh themselves in the student experience, to the point that a student’s personal agency and initiative are not requirements for college success. College bureaucrats may be creating jobs for themselves, but the services they offer—purportedly to help young adults graduate with useful degrees—will simply cripple students in the real world’s workforce free from academia’s handholding.

Biden’s proposal that U.S. taxpayers foot the bill for everyone’s community college is incomplete because it fails to address “higher education’s biggest challenge – boosting the number of community college students who graduate or transfer to a four-year school,” Kirp writes. Ostensibly only about 40 percent of community college students nationwide either graduate with an associate’s degree, or transfer to a four-year university within the span of six years.

As a solution, Kirp proposes the universal adoption of the “Accelerated Study in Associate Programs” model, or ASAP for short, in addition to the aforementioned $302 billion in new funding for students and colleges.

The first part of the ASAP model is to help students find schools that match their interests and give them important information on a school’s benefits and drawbacks, including costs and graduation rates. This is all well and good, and it is refreshing to see Kirp, or anyone on the left for that matter, speak in favor of students avoiding needlessly expensive programs, or schools that simply do not have anything to offer them.

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