We Can’t Build Back Better Without a Free Community College Opinion

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The Biden administration’s most recent attempt to cut costs is perhaps its costliest move of all: when the administration slashed its social safety net bill from $ 3.5 trillion to 1.75 trillion dollars, she dropped out of free community college. We are disappointed with this decision, which hinders and delays a much-needed investment that, in the long term, promises to benefit all of our country and our economy.

President Joe Biden’s Build Back Better bill may be only half of its previous cost, but the administration will pay the price elsewhere. This cost will take the form of lost talent and skills that would have benefited our future workforce and society as a whole. Indeed, research shows that access to college allows people to thrive in the workforce and become more active and productive citizens in general. To this end, the financial barriers that prevent individuals from pursuing higher education create losses and harms that are in fact collective, even when they appear to be individual and marginal. In other words, education always pays off: it’s one of the best investments we can make.

Otherwise, why should the Biden administration work harder and faster to make higher education accessible at all levels? Perhaps because of the fact that in the United States, tuition fees are disproportionate and unfair to begin with. All it takes is a quick internet search to see that the average cost of tuition in the United States is among the highest in the world. And even beyond that, our system further burdens individuals with massive student loan debt which worsens the problem over time. Against this background, we are disheartened and concerned that as long as the Biden administration continues to put the provision of a free community college on hold, students will continue to be dissuaded from pursuing higher education or experiencing financial hardship at because of that.

We have spoken in favor of student debt relief in the past, but while necessary, it alone will not be enough to cure our sick and inequitable higher education system. Debt relief is reactive in nature, as it only benefits university graduates after taking out loans and incurring financial burdens during their college years. The tuition-free community college, on the other hand, helps improve the accessibility of higher education in the United States from the start by lowering barriers to entry and allowing those who might not otherwise be able to attend. allow graduate studies to enroll and obtain a degree. The Tuition-Free Community College offers what debt relief cannot, leaving us troubled to see it cut from Biden’s current spending program.

At a recent CNN town hall meeting, Biden made a promise to all of us, “I promise you – I guarantee it – we’re going to get free community college in the next few years, across the board.” We remain hopeful that Biden will stay true to his word, even as that commitment appears increasingly fickle and distant at this time. But in the meantime, we’re urging the administration to take deliberate steps to help offset that blunt promise, such as a larger increase in federal Pell Grants for low-income undergraduates.

We have spoken out on many issues related to higher education and explored what we think it should be. We argue that higher education can – and should – take many different forms. But in all these forms, it has to be one thing: accessible.

This staff editorial represents the majority opinion of The Crimson Editorial Board only. It is the product of discussions at regular editorial board meetings. In order to ensure the impartiality of our journalism, Crimson editors who choose to express their opinion and vote at these meetings are not involved in the publication of articles on similar topics.

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