Dr. Helen

Should College Tuition be Free?

Michael Walsh has a post over at the PJ Tatler entitled “The Culture of Entitlement: Somebody Else Pay for My College Tuition!” He discusses an article at the Washington Post about an African American female student accepted to Tulane who cannot afford to go there without a free ride:

I am one of the top two prospects for valedictorian at Riverside, the opposing student is an African-American female and scholarship student as well.

With silent fervor and diligence, together we worked to rise to become the top senior ranks…..

To my dismay, I was denied the full scholarship to Tulane.

The student, Crysten Price, is dismayed that she is denied this scholarship, pointing out that those with wealthier parents can attend their first choice school and those with no money can attend but those who are lower and middle class are not able to go to their first choice school. This is unfair, she says:

I want the rest of the students within my community to leave, to branch out, and to thrive.

I want the destructive system crippling my community to fall.

I want equality of outcome.

So what is equality of outcome? I can’t say what it means to the student mentioned above but according to Wikipedia:

Equality of outcome, equality of condition, or equality of results is a political concept which is central to some political ideologies and is used regularly in political discourse, often in contrast to the term equality of opportunity.[2] It describes a state in which people have approximately the same material wealth or in which the general economic conditions of their lives are similar. Achieving equal results generally entails reducing or eliminating material inequalities between individuals or households in a society, and usually involves a transfer of income or wealth from wealthier to poorer individuals, or adopting other measures to promote equality of condition.

So in order for this student’s community to thrive, is she saying that college should be free for this community? Where is the money going to come from? Who is paying and how does this affect other people’s “equality of outcome?” If, for example, college is free for those who can’t pay for their first choice expensive school, how does that affect the economy in general for those without much money? Other social programs would have to be cut, taxes raised, and jobs reduced since employers would be paying higher costs. This in turn would affect other people, her own community and other communities and people. But nothing matters as long as “other people” are footing the bill. But as Margaret Thatcher so astutely said, “The problem with socialism is that eventually you run out of other people’s money [to spend].”

What do you think, is free tuition to one’s first choice school a good idea or a self-entitled delusion?