The government does not have unlimited funds; and not all students can’t afford college.
If the U.S. government had unlimited funds, it could provide free tuition for community college and no one would complain. For that matter, the nation could put all interested and qualified students through four years of college and beyond. But right here, right now, there are limits to the good the U.S. can accomplish with available public dollars–and that means careful, difficult choices have to be made.
If the government has money to spend, should it provide safe, affordable day care for children while their parents go to work? Should it provide preschool for all? How about better reimbursement of doctors who accept Medicaid patients, or a boost in spending on roads, bridges, airports and other infrastructure?
President Obama thinks the nation’s next step should be to underwrite up to three years of free community college for everyone who attends half or full time, progressing toward a vocational certificate or transfer to a four-year school. In a way, this makes sense: Community colleges are a particularly efficient way of delivering the first years of higher education, at a lower overall cost not just for students but for the nation as a whole.
(Next page: Why cover all students?)