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Free College in Europe? Not So Free After All


By David Biden, Semesterz

Those who are fighting for free college in America always seem to have one key argument. If countries in Europe can do it, why can’t we? Except that there is a very big flaw in that argument… And that is the fact that free college in Europe isn’t actually very free after all. In fact, it costs the average person quite a fair sum.
Tuition Fees in America

[post_ads]Let’s kick off with WHY there is such a huge debate around free education in America. There is no denying that tuition fees have begun to skyrocket through the roof. With the average cost for a student each year in the region of $30,000 to $40,000. Going to college is not cheap. Add this to the fact that those in charge of these higher education establishments always seem to be rolling in the Benjamins. We can see why there is such an issue with students up and down the country. Why should people spend an absolute fortune on an education, only to be funding the coffers of some rich university president? There is no argument from us that tuition fees should be lowered, but there is a worry that this talk of ‘free college’ isn’t quite as justified as some will have you believe.
Free College in Europe

There are several countries across Europe who are offering free education for all their students, even those who want to come from abroad and study. Germany are one of the most talked about countries offering free education after making every single one of their universities tuition fee back in 2014. Politicians around the country believed that charging students to learn was unjust, which led to them scrapping all fees for both national and international students. It sounds like a dream, doesn’t it? Other countries also offer variations of this free education, including Finland, Sweden, Denmark and Norway. So, if these countries can do it, why doesn’t the rest of the world follow suit?
Taxes

It’s the one word that shatters the whole argument for free education; taxes. Europe is known for having higher taxes than America, but do you really know how much by? When you look at the tax wedge of these countries – which is the way of measuring income tax in dollars – you’ll see that things aren’t quite as rosy as they once seemed. Germany is a prime example, with one of the highest tax wedges in the world. A staggering 49.3 compared to 31.5 in the US. The other countries offering free education, such as the ones we mentioned before, are also riding high above America. Finland at 43.9, Sweden at 42.5 and Denmark and Norway just above the US. The simple fact is this – if you want free education for all then you’re going to have to pay for it. It doesn’t matter whether you have children that are going to go into further education or not, it’s going to come out of your pay packet. It will come out of your pay whether you’re a single mom working in a restaurant or a struggling business owner. Everyone will pay the same percentage, regardless of what you do, who you are, and whether college is even an option for you, your children or your children’s children.
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While there are still many arguments for and against free college in America, we are sure of one thing. You cannot use the ‘free education in Europe’ as an indication of how it works. Because it isn’t free. Not for anyone!


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Career Advice: Free College in Europe? Not So Free After All
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