Free Tuition: An Idea That’s Still Green

By John O. Harney

More than 100 Green Party candidates nationwide called for a “Green New Deal” that includes making  tuition free at public universities.

It’s not the first time. California public campuses charged no tuition (but increasing fees) for state residents for decades. in 2003, Preston H. Smith II of Mount Holyoke College and Sharon Szymanski of The Labor Institute wrote a piece for the  journal of the American Political Science Association calling for free tuition. In New England, the idea of free tuition, at least at community colleges, was bandied about by leaders including former NEBHE President Evan Dobelle. But when the recession hit, the idea fell victim to tough times.

For the record, the College Board reports that public four-year colleges charged on average $7,020 per year in tuition and fees for students who live in their state and $11,528 for full-time out-of-state students. Private four-year colleges charged an average of $26,273 per year in tuition and fees, while public two-year colleges charged $2,544. And as always, New England was above the U.S. average in all categories.


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