Considered lower income? This college wants you to study in Tennessee for free

Starting in the fall of 2020, The University of Tennessee will begin to provide free tuition to Tennessee residents.

Randy Boyd, interim university president, announced this past week how tuition and fees will be covered for students with household incomes under $50,000 a year.

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“This isn’t a school just for the wealthy or the elite. This is a school for everyone.” Boyd shared.

Students who qualify will be matched with volunteer mentors and need to complete service-learning hours.

Both incoming students along with those enrolled in 2020 will be eligible.

Five years ago, Tennessee became the first state to make community college tuition-free for new high school graduates.

Later, it expanded that program to allow older adults.

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State commitments have allowed 46 percent of UT students to graduate without debt.

The recent announcement begs the question: should all college be free?

There are a variety of pros and cons to this loaded and frequently asked question.

According to Student Debt Relief, “the ideas of free college is really no more radical than free kindergarten through grade 12.”

Free education has been a process of evolution in the U.S. and the next step, is free college.

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Both democracies as well as republics demand an educated population if full political participation is the goal.

A college education will give people who vote on issues historical context, understanding of our system as well as an understanding of underlying social and economic issues

Many more jobs are also knowledge-based today or require advanced technical skills than in the past — to the point where there are sometimes not enough qualified people to fill the positions.

College education has become significantly more necessary than in the past to fill today’s jobs and a better workforce who help America’s economic growth.

“The average student today graduates from college $37,172 in student loan debt. For graduate and professional students, the amount is significantly higher. People facing that kind of debt, often do not have a lot of money to contribute to the economy.” the site states.

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The total student loan debt in this country is $1.48 trillion — which far outruns credit card debt at $1.023 trillion.

If people did not have such significant student loan debt, they could purchase houses, buy consumer items as well as contribute more to the economy.

“Students would be able to focus more on their studies rather than worrying about how to scrape together enough funds for each upcoming school term if college were free. More students might graduate on time, ready to take on important jobs in their communities.”

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Since 1978, the cost of attending a four-year college has increased by 1,122%.

In 1978, a student at a four-year, public university could earn enough in a minimum wage summer job to pay tuition. Those days are long gone. Today it would take more than a full year to make enough. Student aid is just not enough help. For example, today, a federal Pell Grant covers only about 30% of the average cost of going to a public four-year college or university. In 1973 it covered over 75% of the cost.”

To learn more about student debt relief, click here.

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