Should college be free? Panelists consider pros and cons.

Hoping to explore the merits of college promise programs, which eliminate tuition and fees for students, Georgetown University think tank FutureEd recently convened a panel of experts to discuss “the benefits and pitfalls of the government picking up the tab for students attending college.”

Seventeen states now have college promise programs, on top of more than 200 local programs. The programs are more often associated with two-year schools and intended to increase access for underserved populations such as first-generation students, veterans, and students of color, according to The Hechinger Report.

The panel took place at Georgetown University Law Center and included:

  • Martha Kanter, executive director of the College Promise Campaign and U.S. undersecretary of education under President Barack Obama
  • Harry J. Holzer, LaFarge SJ Professor of Public Policy at the McCourt School of Public Policy at Georgetown University and chief economist for the U.S. Department of Labor under President Bill Clinton
  • Jen Mishory, senior fellow at The Century Foundation and author of The Future of Statewide College Promise Programs
  • Tiffany Jones, director of higher education policy at Education Trust

As covered by The Hechinger Report, the discussion featured a variety of viewpoints, including a recommendation by Kanter to expand college promise programs. Holzer, however, cautioned against applying the model to four-year schools, saying that would be “quite expensive and quite regressive.” Rather than expanding free college, he suggested states should focus on increasing completion rates.

Mishory noted that states’ college promise models vary in their requirements and scope, and Jones emphasized the importance of asking “who’s benefiting and how are these students impacted by these programs?”

View a YouTube recording of the June 25 panel discussion on college promise programs:

Topics in this story
, ,

Next Up

Report reinforces benefits of mental health clubs on college campuses

A new study suggests that providing college students with a forum to discuss mental health issues with their peers increases awareness and reduces stigma.