Students react to free college initiative

Many people are hesitant about attending college because of the price it costs to attend. However, things have gotten easier and more affordable now that there are free college options. US News and the Huffington Post are just two outlets that have covered this rising form of higher education. There is a good variety of colleges that are free in the United States. The Webb Institute, Alice Lloyd College and Barclay College are just three that have sprung up.

“College being free would be absolutely amazing,” junior Vanessa Brightwell said.

“College would be less stressful if it was free,” senior Alexis Coverton agreed. “You wouldn’t have to worry about carrying the extra weight of student loans for four years to have to pay it all back six months after graduating.”

Junior Terry Boasiako pointed out the benefits of a free education  for “people that are not so fortunate.”

Sophomore Lorenzo Austin had mixed feelings about free college. “I will say that it would make me more relaxed about everything. I say that because I’m putting myself in debt right now or my family for a chance to have a better education,” he said. “[But] I feel like someone would have to pay for it in the long run, and if I’m messing up someone else’s funds for my education I honestly don’t think that’s fair.”

Keep in mind that there is a catch. Some colleges only admit students from a certain state or those who come from low income backgrounds. Many require students work during their semesters or provide services to the school after graduation.

Full time students at the College of Ozarks in Missouri are offered full tuition, but must work 15 hours a week in addition to working one 40-hour week during break each semester.

Deep Springs College in California doesn’t require students pay for anything. Instead, students work on the school’s cattle ranch and alfalfa farm.

Some students said they’d be willing to work for a free education, and pointed out the similarities to current programs at Wesleyan.

“The experience is probably better and less complex than a traditional college that you pay fees for. Here at Virginia Wesleyan, they still make students do work study to help make up the remaining balance for financial aid,” Coverton said.

“I would be interested,” Brightwell said. “It wouldn’t be any different, really.”

Others weren’t excited about the idea.

“I would rather choose when I work and how I would get paid for it,” Austin said.

Many were unaware about the availability of free colleges in the United States.

“I had no idea that college was free, unless you mean community colleges,” Austin said. Coverton, Brightwell and Boasiako were also unaware of free colleges.

Other free colleges are the United States Air Force Academy, United States Coast Guard Academy, United States Merchant Marine Academy, United States Military Academy and the United States Naval Academy, though these service academies have strict entry requirements and require future military service.

Caimaya Ashton