DP Buzz: Is free college a feasible idea?

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Editor’s note: DP Buzz is an interactive feature of the Daily Press Opinion Page. We email weekly questions on issues and topics affecting Peninsula-area citizens. Each week, subscribers can choose to weigh in with a short answer. Here is a sampling; all responses are posted at dailypress.com/opinion. To receive DP Buzz questions, email mholtzclaw@dailypress.com with the subject “DP Buzz.”

This week’s question: Is the concept of free college education feasible?

It’s a ploy of course. Since our political leaders have just increased the debt ceiling thereby increasing the deficit by several trillion dollars over the next two years, offering anything free of personal responsibility is irresponsible. Whatever happened to, we can’t approve any expenditures because of the deficit we’re leaving for our children?

Jo-Ann Mahony


Many European nations offer free, or nearly so, college tuition. To do this in the U.S. will require recovering some of the wealth concentrated in the pockets of the top 1%. As Jefferson noted, such ill distribution of wealth leads to social instability.Better access to higher education and medical care addresses this problem.

Benjamin Cuker


It is political “hipe” in Virginia. The General Assembly has failed to meet “their formula for funding the Standards of Learning.” The creation of the community college system was originally intended to offer advance studies to all residents; tuition rates continually climb. In short, “Keep the promises already made” before looking for additional educational programs.

Ross Kearney


No. College is not for everyone. There are many other opportunities for living well in America. I am a college graduate who paid my own tuition and in so doing began to learn more about life and the rewards of being somewhat independent. Self-respect, self-reliance, resilience and optimism are not resulting from a free-ride.

Steve Yedinak

Newport News

Impossible, without a doubt. Sure, there are 24 countries around the world that offer free college, but there is absolutely no way the U.S. can do what two dozen other less wealthy nations have done. (See “Countries With Free College 2019” at worldpopulationreview.com).

Stephen Warren


Cost of college and student loans are a real issue, and linking free college education to public service is feasible and socially responsible — have given it much thought over man years — but unless a candidate presents details on government costs, offsets and post-graduate obligations, they are merely chasing votes.

Dave McGinnis


I applaud the opportunity for further education. A free two-year plan is feasible. A dedicated scholar will find a way through the next two years. Many will reach their goal at the two-year level. I believe they should have an obligation for two-year repayment through military service, social service, or teaching.

Gloria Champine

Newport News

Low cost tuitions should offered to students at community colleges, Low tuition should be offered at state universities or colleges. However, human nature gets in the way,state education is not looked upon as the “right thing” for their sons and daughters

Robert Neely

Newport News

Sad when politicians lose all their principles and start “giving away what is not theirs to give.”. It’s our tax dollars, given to them to be used wisely. Trouble is there are fewer and fewer “wise” politicians. This is another appeal to the “useful idiot” crowd.

Herb De Groft


It is a ridiculous and crazy idea. Who judges what is a permissible service plan? Some people will believe anything a politician tells them.

Melinda Webb


Talking about plans to make a college education free is more rational than talking about plans to go back to the moon by 2024. Neither free college nor going back has any chance whatsoever of happening; however, the former unlike the latter at least expresses a desirable, albeit unobtainable, goal.

Michael Holloway

York County

It’s been done for many decades in Europe. We just need to place the emphasis on the right things — education and health care rather than defense — and raise taxes on the super-rich. Income disparity is at a 100-year high in the U.S. and providing free education would help level the playing field.

Gail Kent

Newport News

Yes, this could be a viable program if the candidate discussed a realistic way to pay for it. This could make the candidate more attractive to the younger generation of voters of course, and maybe be viable if ever instituted.

Andrew Byrne


The way I see it, it is not feasible. Any politician spouting off with ideas like that is only trying to get votes.

Alan Duhon

Newport News

Let’s qualify your question and make it more specific. Start with which GOP candidates are running on free college education for everybody. The other candidates will be campaigning to win votes from voters who don’t pay taxes.

Jack Grant


I need to hear a feasible explanation of where the money’s coming from before I support any candidate using that item as a main selling point.

Marie Whytsell


On its basis, it is not reasonable unless schools reduce costs and teachers their salaries. Really, do you think that is going to happen?

Barbara Kerwin


I think in this political climate, it would be just for votes. Actually putting it in motion would seem impossible I think it may be an offer to some people but it must come with strings attached and close selection and monitoring so it is not abused.

Joyce Southern

Newport News

Its not impossible — there are nations that do this. But it will be a long time before Republicans come on board for anything like that.

Ed Prior


It is possible and feasible. In many countries with universal service requirements education is part of the payoff. If you do not pass the yearly exams your out of free school. I have met and had students from these countries work for me after completion of their service. Without fail all the folks I interacted with felt a strong bond with their country.


James City County

I think it is all about getting votes. The deficit just keeps growing. Politicians should fight to lower tuition which continues to rise.

Buddy Rilee


Free college education as advocated by many of the Democratic Party presidential candidates represents the worst kind of pandering for votes by offering in-affordable “free stuff” to unthinking voters. Another “feel good,” low priority, and hugely costly federal entitlement is not justified.

Michael J Brown

James City County

It’s a pipe dream fostered by the left. Why on earth should people who paid their debts or didn’t incur the debt, pay for those who incurred their own debt and can’t pay it off?

Frank Govern

Newport Coast, Calif.

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