Rowe is referring to a policy idea popularized by Bernie Sanders that taxpayers should heavily subsidize college — to the extent that it initially wouldn’t cost students anything out of pocket to attend. Obviously, there are some serious flaws in this idea. When one considers where tax dollars come from, it becomes apparent that students would ultimately end up paying for their tuition one way or another.
Under Sanders’s proposal, the difference is that instead of paying for their tuition at enrollment, students (and everyone else, for that matter) will pay for this “free” education when filing taxes every single year for the rest of their lives.
This won’t make college tuition less expensive, either. We can take a look at the impact government subsidies have had on higher education and determine that it’s done nothing to make college more affordable for anyone. In fact, for every dollar the federal government spends on college subsidies, the cost of tuition goes up by 55 to 65 cents.