Photo Illustration by Jonathan Bratthall Tideman

Make it free, make it through

The need for a publicly funded higher education system is apparent
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The need for a publicly funded higher education system is apparent

Since I moved to the United States for my study abroad semester, one thing that I’ve noticed that puts a lot of pressure on students here in general is tuition fees.

With growing stress and mental health issues for students in general, the United States as a country should actively be working towards introducing a publicly funded higher education system.

Being from Sweden, where university is free for all citizens, the fact that students have to pay to get an education baffles me. The U.S. is a country with split views in general on heavy topics like this. However, the fact that some students have to say no to getting a higher education because they can’t pay for the tuition is just wrong.

One argument for introducing a publicly funded higher education system is taking the pressure away from students. Over the short period that I’ve been here, I’ve had multiple discussions with different people about their fears of having to drop out because they can’t pay for tuition, or they can’t afford food because the fact that they’ve just paid for school that month.

Many students worry about their parents spending money they don’t have to put them through school. While considering the fact that one of the major mental health issues facing students at this time in history is stress and anxiety, always walking around worrying about how to pay for tuition can’t be helping this in any way. If anything, it should be argued that the stress of having to pay to stay in school could lead students not performing as well as they could.

Another argument for introducing a tuition free higher education system is that a majority of Americans want it. According to a poll conducted in November of 2017 by Peen Schoen Berland on behalf of the Campaign for Free College Tuition, there is a general support from America, from both red and blue states, for free tuition at public universities and colleges for students who are academically qualified. According to the poll the overall support is strong with 73 percent of the people asked in favor.

Some people might argue that introducing a free tuition college system would lead to students not taking their education seriously because of the fact that there is less pressure on them with not having to pay. While understandable, while looking at numbers from countries such as Sweden, where the average student performance indicator in 2013/14 showed that 82% of all higher education students in Sweden were achieving all the HE credits they registered for, that argument becomes void.

The best way for the United States to help students attending higher education would be to seriously consider how they as a country can deal with the issue of tuition.

By introducing a free tuition college system for students that are academically qualified, they introduce a system with less pressure of payments where students can focus on what really matters, getting an education.

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