No such thing as ‘free college’

As long as I’ve declared my opposition to Bernie Sanders’s candidacy for president of the United States, I want to discuss briefly what I believe is the goofiest notion of the Vermont U.S. senator’s campaign platform.

He is promising to provide a “free college education” for any publicly funded college student in the United States of America.

I have tried to figure that one out. I cannot get there.

As near as I can tell, there is no such thing as “free college.” Such a pledge reminds me of the motel marquee that offers guests who stay there “free cable TV” and “free hot breakfast.” I always chuckle and think, “Who are they kidding? They’re hiding the costs in the room rate.”

Free college is a non-starter. It cannot possibly be enacted, given the costs that public colleges and universities have to cover. Absent student tuition and the attendant fees that go with a college education, these institutions cannot possibly provide the kind of education they are able to offer.

As for the “free” aspect, how do we fund these institutions? With more tax revenue!

I offer this rebuke of Sen. Sanders’s pie-in-the-sky promise as one who attended college with help from Uncle Sam, courtesy of the GI Bill offered to military veterans. That “pre-paid” college assistance allowed me to avoid acquiring the crippling student loans that so many students have to bear when they finish their schooling and head out into the working world.

This notion of offering “free college,” though, in my view is a serious head-scratcher.

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