Can you pass this quiz about free college?

There is a difference between cost and price, and between tuition-free and debt-free
By: | December 12, 2019
Large lectures will probably remain a part of college, whether it's free or not. As free college is a hot topic in and outside academia, here's a chance to brush up on your terminology.

Think you know everything there is to know about free college?

Free-college is, of course, being put into practice in several parts of the country, and tuition, debt, affordability and access are all hot topics in the campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination.

The Associated Press reported that the Democratic candidates all either support free college as a new, large-scale government benefit or they prefer more incremental changes on higher ed affordability.

Meanwhile, the University of Texas at San Antonio announced this week that it will offer eight semesters of free tuition and fees to incoming freshmen who qualify.


More from UB: Debates rage as more states offer free college tuition


In Virginia, Gov. Ralph Northam wants to provide $145 million in free community college tuition for low- and middle-income students studying high-demand fields, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reported.

Time to test your free-college knowledge

So, with inspiration and some help (a lot of free help, actually) from the new “Free College 101” report by the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce, UB offers this short (and free) quiz to help you brush up on your free-college terminology.

1. “Cost of attendance” refers to:

  1. The total amount of tips a student gives their professors.
  2. The collective financial and spiritual value of all the opportunities a student will miss out on while attending college.
  3. A student’s total higher ed expenses.

2. What is the difference between cost and price?

  1. Nothing! They’re literally synonyms.
  2. Cost is what parents spend to educate a student; price is the amount parents charge their kids in return.
  3. Cost is what institutions spend to educate a student; price is the amount that institutions charge.

More from UB: 3 questions about tuition payment agreements—answered


3. What is a college promise program?

  1. When a college promises to exist for at least four years after a student enrolls.
  2. When a college promises to ask graduates, in perpetuity, for donations equal to or more than the amount the graduate already paid in tuition and fees.
  3. A program—of which there are currently about 280 nationwide—that offers free tuition or other financial support to eligible students within a particular state or region.

4. What is the difference between tuition-free programs and debt-free programs?

  1. Tuition-free means students are free to pay tuition. Debt-free means they are free not to worry about debt.
  2. Both programs imply that students won’t be asked about outstanding tuition or debt on most tests or other class assignments.
  3. Tuition-free programs cover the price of tuition; debt-free programs do not require students to apply for loans.

5. What do first dollar, middle dollar and last dollar refer to? 

  1. What students and their families will spend on college.
  2. The three levels of financial literacy courses most college now offer.
  3. The three main types of free-college awards.

Before we reveal the answers, here is some more food-for-free-college thought, with a global perspective: NPR recently considered what the U.S. might learn from Chile’s free college program.

And now for the answers, in case they weren’t obvious: They’re all “c.”


More from UB: Op-ed—The unintended consequences of free college tuition