I mean, who would pay for it? When you say something like “make graduate programs free for the graduate student”, who is the individual directly benefiting from attending a graduate program, who is going to pay the operating costs, salaries, and fringe benefits that are accrued while educating said graduate student?
This is why I phrased it as a question of feasibility. When I look at an institution like Harvard, it has a $34.5 billion endowment. The question is, with an endowment like that, how much room do you have to adjust graduate school tuitions? Can they be reduced to zero?
I don’t doubt that our society and economy benefit as a whole from the knowledge produced out of the research, and having more high-skilled and educated workers and citizens. However, we can’t just “make it free” as the money has to come from somewhere, and the issue is where is the most appropriate place that money should come from.
My question was not what we can do, but what higher education can do. You and I can’t really do a damn thing because we don’t have any say in the GOP tax bill or GOP policy at all.
If you are just across the board take someone else’s money to pay for someone else’s expense, what is going to be the control mechanism to keep cost down?
Universities already give many graduate students a full ride by way of paying students’ tuition on behalf of the students. If the GOP eliminates the tax deductibility of that and counts it as ordinary income, this means the same expense-free admission of students needs to be structured a different way for it to continue to be viable. One way to do that, in theory, is to make tuition free. Perhaps there are other ways available to universities who do not want to make graduate school effectively unaffordable for a large group of people.
Also, really, all graduate programs? Are all programs really of equal value, that society should pick up the tab, regardless of its productive value to the society. I don’t have a problem if a person wants to get a Master of Fine Arts in Russian Literature; however, it seems weird to argue that as a society, the single-mother that has to work two jobs to get by should pay for it.
Again, universities already pick up the tab for a great many students, and it’s entirely their call which students are getting reimbursed how much. If they want to give tuition reimbursement and stipends to Russian MFAs, is that not their prerogative?