Obama’s ‘Free’ College Program: Study shows massive costs for states, taxpayers

A new study estimates that President Obama’s $60 billion initiative for free community college could cost states about $4 billion combined.

To cover those costs, state spending would need to increase by about 5 percent on average, though some states would require double-digit increases, according to the study from the American Action Forum.

That would be a hard sell politically. “Since the recession began, a majority of states have cut their per-student higher education funding by more than one-fifth,” The Washington Examiner noted.

The Obama administration and its supporters argue that, as college costs trend ever upward and student loan debt mounts, free community college would help students avoid debt. However, just as the federal student loan program has failed to keep college costs low, free tuition does little to reform the higher education system.

“The proposals do nothing to actually lower the cost of college, but merely subsidize today’s expensive tuition rates. Free in this context does not attempt to drive down the cost of providing education, but instead shifts the burden of paying for higher education away from students and onto taxpayers,” study authors Carlo Salerno, Chad Miller, and DouDou Zhang wrote.

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