Free tuition: An unfair, unthinking approach
Putting aside the political aspects, Gov. Raimondo’s proposal of free tuition would be a slap in the face to all Rhode Islanders who have recently graduated college. Having just graduated from RIC myself (on time with a dual major and well-deserved honors), I still owe nearly $25,000 despite having made significant payments. And what would the governor’s plan do for recent graduates? Nothing! To give future students such a tremendous and sudden economic advantage over recent grads is unacceptable. Compared to someone who would benefit from Raimondo’s plan, the burden of having to continue repaying loans would leave me no fair chance when it comes to competing for adequate salaries in the (still not-so-plentiful) job market. And I certainly have no intention of having my tax dollars pay for another student while I’m still paying for myself.
I propose two alternatives that would still benefit future students while maintaining a level playing field.
Option 1: Redirect all of the funds that would pay for future tuition into an interest-free loan program for exclusive use by Rhode Island’s students. Students would be able to borrow up to the equivalent of two years’ tuition at their chosen public institution. In this way, the state would be able to recoup most of a student’s expenses and reuse them.
Option 2: Reimburse all recent in-state graduates who attended CCRI, RIC and URI for the amount equivalent to two years (four semesters) of tuition they paid through loans or out-of-pocket. If the state cannot come up with the sum all at once, state tax credits or monthly dispersements would be practical alternatives.
I see no reason why lawmakers shouldn’t consider these possibilities before impulsively jumping on the bandwagon.