Free college tuition is often billed as a free lunch, but a new study finds that the exact opposite is true.
It turns out that students can actually pay more than they expect to for a year’s tuition in free college, and some even end up paying more than their true tuition, according to the study, “Cost of Free College.”
According to the researchers, this is because some students who enroll in free colleges actually end up losing money because of the cost.
“The real cost of free college is in tuition, fees, room and board, books, and fees,” the researchers wrote in their study, titled, “The Cost of Free Education.”
“Free college students can expect to lose out on about $2,000 in student earnings for a total of about $3,000 a year,” the study concluded.
So how does this compare to other free public education programs?
“We used a standard deviation approach, which measures how likely a sample of students is to pay a different amount of money for the same education,” the authors wrote.
For example, if there are 10 students enrolled in a free college program, the researchers said they would expect to pay about $1,000 for the program.
The average amount of a year students are expected to pay is $9,000, or about $9.75 per student.
But what if the student is a full-time student and has to pay for more than the free tuition?
The study found that students who paid the full tuition would be expected to lose $2.75, or $2 per year.
That means that the average student would lose $3.45 per year during the year, or an extra $4,500 in tuition for the year.
But what about the other way students are supposed to pay?
The researchers found that when students were paying full tuition, the average amount they would pay for the education was actually lower than it should be.
Instead of paying $976 per year, they were actually expected to have to pay $637 per year to attend the program, or almost $5,500 less than the $2 a year they were supposed to be paying.
“The net effect of these two effects is that the students who attended free college were actually losing out on the money they should have been saving,” the report said.
And what about those who were taking courses that would be counted toward the minimum wage?
A majority of students who took courses at the four-year public university would actually be earning less than their real earnings, the study found.
As a result, students who enrolled in the free college tuition program were actually saving money by attending the program than they would have had to if they had taken classes at the state’s public universities.
This means that, instead of saving money, the students were actually paying more in taxes.
According the report, if a student were to earn $25,000 per year and enroll in a $50,000 public college, they would be able to afford the full cost of tuition.
If they were to work full time, they’d only have to make $18,000.
So while some free public colleges offer free tuition to low-income students, the report found that other public institutions are not required to offer it to their low- and middle-income customers.