Support Free Public Higher Education

The following is from the Campaign for the Future of Higher Education (CFHE). The CFHE website can be found at:


Earlier this year, the Campaign for the Future of Higher Education released a working paper, “Making All Public Higher Education Free.” In that paper the author, Bob Samuels, demonstrated why such a proposal is both realistic and smart.

The idea seems to be gaining support.

As we reported in an “On the Issues” posting in June, Germany has returned to free tuition in its colleges and universities, after a brief experiment with charging tuition.

More recently the Republican governor of Tennessee, William E. Haslam, has proposed free community college in that state. The Tennessee Promise proposal is far from perfect, but it at least has the virtue of adding to a much-needed discussion about possible models for free higher education in this country.

As many have pointed out, free public higher education is no pipe dream if you look at actual numbers. All you have to do is get beyond the “austerity” approach to public funding for vital services.

The $165 billion from state appropriations and tuition and fees at all community and 4-year in this country is only 4% of the national budget.  The tuition piece of that, roughly $84 billion, which would be the only new expenditure for the government to pick up, makes up only 2% of the federal budget and roughly 10% of defense.

(For more details on costing, see “Going Back to Class: Why We Need to Make University Free, and How We Can Do It.”)

We urge those who care about access to higher education and about smart investment for our collective future to add their voices to the conversation and sign the petition. We need our national leaders to develop a plan to make public colleges tuition-free.

Please sign and pass it on.

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