What are people’s opinions on ‘free’ higher education? Obviously nothing is ever ‘free’, and it would come out of taxpayer dollars, but would this help or hurt the economy? I’m hearing (and reading) articles on both sides of this issue, but I am not sure how many come from reliable economists. Also, if it is a negative impact on the economy, how are other countries managing to do this successfully (or is it actually detrimental to them in the long run?)?

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Posted by Julie (MONEY FORUMS: 4, Answers: 2)
Asked on February 15, 2016 7:14 pm
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You asked for opinions Julie….I’ll give you mine. You can also read the blogs I wrote for CentSai at the end of last year on the subject. “free education” is not free. It has to be paid for by SOMEONE. The question to ask is if the method of financing the education (who is getting taxed to pay for it) will a) be sufficient and b) will it really level the playing field (who is impacted most by the tax?) Providing free education, regardless of ability to pay, often just gives a windfall to those who could afford to pay. I am thinking of states that have free or reduced tuition for students that are academically qualified. (The parents of these kids buy them cars with the money saved.) Countries around the world that offer free (or very low cost tuition) have had a different tax structure for a long time, and this is how education and universal health care have been funded. Their tax rates are generally higher than what we have in the US. In countries like France, tuition is basically zero, but students go to the local university and live at home to help keep their living costs down. French students must also pass difficult exams to get into school to begin with, so many students don’t go to University, they have vocational alternatives. If they live away from home, they may need to borrow money to live. In the US, there are several schools that meet 100% of financial need, (Harvard, for example) allowing low and middle income students to go to school without any debt at all.

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Posted by Beth Tallman (MONEY FORUMS: 1, Answers: 61)
Answered: February 16, 2016 4:53 pm