By Catharine Hill
Increases in college costs and concerns about student debt have led to a variety of proposals for free tuition across American higher education.
Several alumni hoping to be elected to Harvard University’s Board of Overseers are now campaigning on a platform of zero tuition for Harvard students. Other proposals focus on community college tuitions, which are already relatively low compared to other types of colleges and universities. And U.S. Rep. Tom Reed (R-N.Y.) is going after the country’s selective private colleges with large endowments. His draft legislation would require these schools to increase spending from their endowments in an effort to hold down tuition and reduce student debt burdens.
But who will actually benefit from these proposals?
Reducing tuition at the well-endowed schools would primarily benefit students from the top 20 percent of the income distribution, students and their families who can already pay much or all of the tuition. To help lower- and middle-income students and their families, it makes more sense to focus on expanding need-based financial aid, rather than lowering tuition levels. Read More →