As the concept of free college is quickly shifting from a radical stance to a common theme in our political world, America's youth have been strong entertainers of the push for a fully tax-funded higher education. Such a belief often originates from an infrastructure of ethics or personal anecdotes, all of which should be good enough reason in themselves.
However, an argument can be made that without full government assistance for college students the nation will fall short of its accomplishments of the past, thus catering to the federal government’s economic and growth-centric ideals.
Going back in history to one of the nation’s most prominent initiatives for free college, the Servicemen’s Readjustment Act of 1944, the bill created an opportunity for a gratuitous higher-education that affected American society economically, socially and educationally.
The act, commonly known as the G.I. Bill, provided several resources and aid which helped World War II veterans reintegrate back into society.
By allowing optimal conditions, the integration of these servicemen served not only themselves and their families, but also the health of the economy. According to the American Quarterly, the act was able to limit an overflow of unemployment by providing outright free tuition for veterans.
To put into perspective how effective this act was in terms of education, the National Archives recounted the content of the act and found 2.3 million eligible veterans would go on to attend a university or college, and 3.5 million would attend training in a school setting. Further, this new wave of students largely succeeded in college, as the number of received degrees more than doubled after the G.I. Bill was passed. A study by Fortune collected data from university professors at the time and claimed the class of 1949 was “the best class the country has ever produced.”
Furthermore, while the original G.I. Bill expired in 1956, the effects of this act were not bound to the few years of its existence, but rather had lasting effects for several decades. This is because of how well-educated the workforce in the nation had become.
Generally speaking, college-educated people have a better chance at making life-altering discoveries which can help improve society economically, socially and patriotically. So, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that in a timeline compiled by the University of Chicago, the late 1940s to the early 1980s were outputting a hotbed of advancement. From Jonas Salk and the Polio vaccine to Edward Lorenz and the butterfly effect — educated minds in America were thriving.
Although, the G.I. Bill can be applied more directly. The Space Race, one of the largest united goals of the nation through science and government, occurred during this era of improvement. Contributing greatly to this historial American moment was William E. Price, a veteran from World War II. When interviewed by American Legion, Price said, “I entered college in 1947 with my tuition and books paid for by the G.I. Bill.” He would later go on to play a fundamental part in engineering NASA’s spacecrafts, including Voyager 1 and 2. The question remains, would this have been possible for Price without a free college education?
Now more than ever, the youth of America need their college tuition to be paid for. Yet, this is not a one-sided deal. Rather, this is the government investing money into its own future: a self-fulfilling prophecy.
To see improvement, the nation can use a method that has been shown to work in the past, and let the American youth do the rest.
LiLi Bicoy is a freshman staff writer studying Journalism. Do you believe our nation needs more college educated workers to ensure a successful future for American society? Send all comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.