UW professors propose free tuition

Professor: 'The financial aid system just is not working out the way it was planned to'
UW professors propose free tuition

Two University of Wisconsin-Madison professors are attempting to give their students a piece of the American dream. In a paper published this month, the model makes college accessible for those who attend public universities by lowering the total cost of tuition.

“The financial aid system just is not working out the way it was planned to. It’s not good for people to work really hard and then see it not pay off. That’s really disconcerting to families and it really undermines the American dream,” said Sara Goldrick-Rab, co-author of the paper.

Under the proposed model, students would receive free tuition for two years and would have their books and supplies paid for completely, as well as receive a stipend to help with living expenses.

Goldrick-Rab said rerouting financial aid from private institutes to public colleges and universities could cover the cost.

“It’s not really right to tell private schools how to do their jobs. But it also does not seem very right for the tax payer to provide a lot of subsidy as it does right now to private institutions, without being able to extract the kinds of accountability that we would want to have.”

Fifty years ago, the federal government allowed private schools to start receiving aid, during a time public schools were not as established.

Goldrick-Rab said public campuses can now offer more to students, creating a greater need for federal resources.

However, Dee Dee Collette, IT program chair at Globe University, said private institutes rely on financial aid as a critical part of students success.

“If the money is removed from financial aid, so there would no longer be financial aid, then a lot of the students of course could not pay out of pocket to go to a career college.”

Edgewood sophomore, Patricia Salenius, chose a private university as one of only two schools in the state that offered her major.

Financial aid is helping her accomplish her career goals.

“I probably wouldn’t be able to go to school at all. I don’t know how I would be able to come up with the money. I’m basically independent completely, it would really make it a struggle for me”, said Salenius.

The proposal is far from reality, Goldrick-Rab says it will take a lot of difficult discussions between both local and federal government to put a working plan into order.

Check out the full paper here