Study: Clinton's free college proposal likely to shift enrollment from private to public
- Georgetown University's Center for Education and the Workforce published a speculative report this week, suggesting that college enrollment at public colleges and universities would likely increase by more than 20% if Hillary Clinton's free college program were implemented nationally.
- Taking data from a similar community college initiative launched in Tennessee, the projection also suspects that enrollment at most private institutions would fall by 7-15%, and that all enrollment changes would most benefit open-access institutions through a "cascading effect" of public schools becoming more selective and more students entering who wouldn't otherwise consider attending college.
- Opponents of the plan suggest that there would not be wide-ranging legislative support for a free college program.
The question of free college comes down to the power of distinct lobbies within and on the periphery of higher education. Will powerful Ivy League schools, which the report suggests will be unaffected by the change, seek to influence federal voting on a proposal that could dramatically impact their minority and low-income student enrollment? Will legislators in the south reject the proposal along political or financial lines, or both?
Organizations like the American Association of State Colleges and Universities may support the idea, but would likely want to ensure that state legislators could not undermine the effort with more significant cuts to institutions to better confront rising costs in other spending areas, or to make more money from the federal subsidies by maintaining costs outright.
- Georgetown University Center for Education and the Workforce The enrollment effects of Hillary Clinton's free college proposal