‘Free college’ once worked for Calif. It can work again for all
Alexander Astin says that our current system of financing higher education was the result of an idea started in the 1970s that “every able student should be able to afford college.” However, well before then, California had accepted and financed the idea that anyone in the state who worked hard enough could earn a degree almost free of charge.
I graduated from the University of California system in 1968. There was no tuition, and aid was available for those who needed it to cover other expenses such as books, room and board. The fee to cover non-instructional expenses, first charged in 1921, was $84 per year. Today, UC charges more than $12,000 in tuition and fees.