Want Free College? Join the Military

Last week President Obama announced that he is proposing that ‘free’ community college be provided to students across America. This ‘free’ community college reportedly comes with a $60 billion price tag over 10 years if approved. This program is anything but free and will only put our nation further into our runaway debt.

“I’m announcing an ambitious new plan to bring down the cost of community college tuition in America,” President Obama said while announcing the program. I want to bring it down to zero. I want to make it free.”

The president said he’s willing to make college free for those who are “willing to work for it.” Here’s an idea: How about free college for those who serve for it? In fact, if you want ‘free’ college, there’s already a way to get that: Join the military.

The military’s Post-9/11 GI Bill not only covers the soldier/veterans with tuition, it provides a monthly housing allowance based on location of the school, books and supplies stipend, and a one-time rural benefit payment. And it doesn’t just cover your standard college; it covers flight training, licensing and certification training, vocational/technical training, undergraduate and graduate degrees and more. Some qualifying service members even have the option of transferring their GI Bill to their spouse or children.

With just as little as 36 months of service, a service number can receive 100 percent of the maximum benefit payable. Now that is an excellent way to earn and pay for college.
The term ‘free’ has been used quite loosely by this administration, but the reality is that Obama’s free community college program will only contribute to our growing national debt, which is over $18 trillion and counting. Obama’s program states that 75 percent of the costs will be federally funded by the taxpayer, with state taxpayers covering the remaining 25 percent.

That is anything but free. That is you and me, the everyday American citizen, now having to foot the bill for capable Americans.

President Obama’s free community college proposal is weak at best and is financially irresponsible. It displays a leadership philosophy with little regard for the taxpayer who will be required to pay for it. In an age of fiscal austerity, where the Department of Defense budget is continually slashed resulting in a shrinking military while global threats are on the rise, the exhibit of backwards priorities is astonishing.

This is the wrong message to be sending our youth. Our culture is continuing to evolve into one that expects handouts. One where young people feel entitled to get everything for free without having to work for it. This trend is a very dangerous mindset to possess. Nothing in life is free. Someone—usually the hard-working middle class American (that is anything but rich)—is footing the bill.

Throughout his time in office, President Obama’s rhetoric has focused so much on the middle class—a topic he says he’ll address in his State of the Union speech in a few weeks. But he seems to have forgotten that the middle class is made up of people who have worked hard to earn what they get. They don’t expect handouts from the government. However, the president seems to think otherwise.

The federal government needs to get out of the business of giving away things for free. Working hard for something creates value: a sense of pride and accomplishment. Giving away things for free creates a sense of entitlement and laziness. If you want something, work for it the old fashioned way. There are no free rides. No free lunches.

We need to re-instill the hard working, go get ‘em American values in our youth. Pursuing any type of college or higher education should be commended, but you don’t get a free ride just because you are an American.

We need to start having the conversation of how you can serve your country instead of merely taking from it.

President John F. Kennedy once said, “My fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.”

It’s time we as a nation start living those words.

Originally published in THE HILL

Follow Amber on Twitter: @AmberSmithUSA

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