A college education is too valuable for the average American to be withheld from millions of people because they can’t afford it, argue Arne Duncan and John Bridgeland of The Brookings Institute. The U.S. saw one of its brightest periods in the decades after WW2, fueled by a populace that had gone to college for free. Especially as AI phases out whole industries, it is more important than ever to re-train people in order to be successful. That same success translates to growth and prosperity on a national level. It maximizes the potential of every student, allowing them to contribute to the economy as best as they can.
Making college free would cause economic damage, not growth, believes Richard Vedder of Forbes. The higher taxes needed to fund such a venture would cause productive members of society to migrate to places with lower tax rates. Additionally, community colleges show that making higher education free reduces student engagement. Data by National Student Clearinghouse shows that 47% drop out. Their academic performances are also worse. Society focuses too much on diplomas themselves, rather than looking at skills. More job training programs would be a better alternative to making college free.