Europeans and misinformed Americans are notorious online for the “muh free college” memes. And while I would hate to destroy the ability for anyone to revel in their own fiscal illiteracy, I still have to debunk this. There is a very high cost of free college. It’s not at all what Europeans and their Euro-praiser counterparts make it seem.
In this article we will find how much the average European (specifically Swedish) pays over their life in taxes for their “free” college and compare it to how much American students pay.
And if you don’t want to read an entire 5000 word article about it?
No worries. I put the cliff notes right at the beginning:
The Cliff Notes on Free Tuition
- The average working Swede is paying $58,758 for their “free” college through life-long tax payments while the average US student pays $27,080 – $39,880 upfront.
- If the Swede makes above average income, works longer than 40 years total, or is a net taxpayer in their retirement years, this number ($58,758) would be far higher.
- Even with “free” college, the average student loan debt in Sweden is $19,000 while the average for a US student is $24,800. Once the US student pays off their debt, their responsibility ends. Once the Swede pays off theirs, they still have to pay the tax cost for the rest of their net tax-payer life.
- 85% of Swedes graduate with debt compared to only 50% of American students
- Even with no financial barriers to entry, the Swedes still have lower rates of degree attainment and enrollment. Only 39% of Swedes have some tertiary education completion compared to 44% in the US.
The Cost of Free College Infographic
Read This Disclaimer
Please note: It is very difficult to pinpoint an exact number for any research of this kind. There are difficulties in getting the data and analyzing this kind of over-time cost analysis. Especially when countries that offer “free” education obscure the financial data (I’m looking at you, Germany).
See my statistical side-notes throughout for the peculiarities and difficulties in this cost analysis. There are many pieces of information that would reduce the final number. But there are also many ones that would increase the final number. I feel I have justified most of these discrepancies and “smoothed” the analysis as much as possible for such a difficult-to-study topic. The number itself may not be pinpoint accurate, but it is very
The areas with the grey background within this article are the statistical disclaimers.
How Much Do Swedes Pay in Taxes For Their ‘Not-So-Free-After-All’ College?
It should be fairly simple, right? We take the cost that Sweden is paying for their college expenses and divide it by the taxpayers to see how much an “average” taxpayer has to pay for “free” college (heavy emphasis on the apostrophes). Well, it’s a lot more difficult than you’d imagine. But I’m here to walk you (and myself) through it.
First, we need an overall figure for how much Sweden spends on college annually. Naturally, this rate changes over time. Also naturally, I can’t predict 30 years in the future.
So we’re going to do this analysis under the assumption that prices stay the same. Even though they don’t. Historically, prices increase well past inflation for universities.
So if we actually had the ability to do this kind of time analysis, it would likely increase the overall number since I’m not able to account for the inflationary effects of higher education. Or the fact that government just naturally grows bigger. But no worries, we don’t need pinpoint accuracy, we just need to prove it is far from free.
Let’s start with cost. There are two sources for the cost of college in Sweden that are competing for my base number. The first is from ekonomifakta and the second from Sweden’s English language website:
The first is ekonomifakta’s Public Sector Expenditure report for 2017. Under the training section they state that the “higher education” expense for 2017 was 49,402 million SEK. This translates to roughly $5,201,240,168 USD annually on higher education specifically.
This number is from their official expenditure report. It specifically states “higher education”. However, there are some issues we will mention below.
Conversely, the official Sweden societal website states that they spend SEK 60.7 billion on “universities and university colleges” a year (2012 value).
60.7 billion SEK translates to roughly $6,391,898,170 USD.
It is unlikely the cost of education decreased in Sweden over those 5 years, but that is what the discrepancies seem to implicate. I did some digging on both of them. More than likely, the ekonomifakta’s expense does not include administrative and municipal costs where the Swedish website version does.
This is important, because ekonomifakta is ignoring administrative costs that would not otherwise exist without “muh free college”. So we should factor those costs in just like our option #2 does.
We will use the Swedish numbers for 2012.
I am not sure if the SEK 60.7 billion figure includes loan subsidies to Swedish students who take out loans for living expenses. It is possible that it includes this expense, but I cannot find confirmation in the 2012 fiscal breakdown report supporting either position. Hypothetically, this number could be far higher when considering the subsidization of student loans, which would drive the cost of “free” college way higher than what I have found below.
The average Swede has a 25 year loan repayment schedule. If the government is subsidizing these loans’ interest rates for this many years, that would reasonably increase this number by the tune of billions of SEK. Which would increase the taxpayer cost significantly.
I have a hunch they are not including it. Sadly, I can’t confirm that. So I did not include it.
The Swedish government additionally subsidizes the research of public universities. This adds another 10.6 billion SEK a year.
So, we have found that the Swedish taxpayer pays 71.3 (60.7 + 10.6) billion SEK a year on total university expense. This is $7,506,314,270.00 in USD every year for “free” college.
This is the annual, yearly cost. This will be the number we use for this cost analysis. (Remeber, we are assuming prices stay the same).
Our cost number only includes the 84.9% from public sources (government), not the private income generated by universities.
Additionally, I fully realize this number is not constant in the real world and would be different each year, likely increasing over time. Sadly, I don’t want to attempt to “guess” the expense each year so to keep this analysis clean we will keep this constant. In the real world, the Swedish taxpayer would pay ever slightly more each year.
Also, I realize that most countries subsidize research and other forms of higher education through loans and research grants, not just countries with ‘free’ college. However, the vast majority of the Swede’s expense in research is not for profit. The research portion that other countries invest in is usually because of a potential profit in return, whereas this is not the case in Sweden. We discuss this more when we talk about research toward the end of this article. Even if you did not include this number in the analysis, it is likely that it would nearly equal out (if not get passed) to the inflationary costs associated with 40 years of higher education expenses outpacing inflation. However, we feel the difference in research goals when being paid for publically vs privately justify its inclusion.
On the topic, obviously not all tax revenue comes directly from an individual. You could say that is a potential flaw in this model. I would argue against that assumption. As we mentioned above, much of the revenue is from things like VAT or payroll taxes. These, along with most taxes, are still an indirect tax on everyone. Since businesses make less in profit because of higher taxes, they cannot pay employees more nor can they reinvest money into their business, nor pay their management teams more money, etc. This results in the tax being an indirect individual tax. The business owner is still an individual making less money through corporate taxation. The consumer is still an individual having to pay massive increases on everything because of a VAT. And the society as a whole consumes much less because of lower wages and higher prices. Finally, any corporate tax (at these rates) is just going to be passed onto the consumer, effectively being an indirect consumption tax.
One final note: I fully understand that not all revenue from Sweden is coming direct from taxpayers. However, the majority of Sweden’s revenue is from taxpayers and perhaps if they did not pay their additional revenue toward things such as “free” college they could use it to reduce their tax rates, saving everyone some much-needed money in Sweden. In effect, even if Sweden is using state-owned businesses or other avenues of revenue to pay for the college portion of their bill, they just restructuring the monies to make it look more reasonable, when it is clearly not. They are simply using higher taxes to cover whatever else they are forgoing to make the numbers look better in this area, if that is the claim. It’s the old lying Bush era motto of “we spend big business tax revenues on bombs, we don’t spend middle-class taxpayer money on bombs!”. Sadly, that’s not how budgets or tax revenue works in the real world.
You may say: Hold on! I’ve seen reports that say that the average Swede only pays 3000 kronor a year on education!
This is wrong because it doesn’t include municipal costs, education-related pension expenses, administrative costs, or other obscure university related costs.
Nightmare Fuel: Swede’s Tax Bill is 70% Of Their Income
Municipal costs are 35% of the entire Swede tax bill and pension costs are 25%. These are very important numbers that any reasonable researcher should include in any “free college” cost analysis or they are just flat out lying. If the government pays for university pensions and municipal administrative costs, we should include it. If they weren’t paying for university, they wouldn’t be paying these costs.
Swedes pay 70% of their income in taxes. This is not just through income tax but through any insanely high VAT tax, corporation taxes, income taxes, payroll taxes, and a plethora of other taxes.
They tax pretty much everything Swedes do at an insane rate.
That means that an average Swede making 25,000 kronor a month ($2,632.49 USD) would pay 17,200 ($1,811.15 USD) of that in taxes, leaving only 7,800 ($821.35 USD) kronor to actually use.
Americans reading: let that sink in. You could make over $2800 a month in Sweden and only get about ~$800 in non-taxed money. The rest will somehow go to taxes.
But hey, at least the public funds will give you a fun train to ride on during your commute to your job where you make just enough money to give it all back to the trains’ operating expenses. Socialism, in action.
As we found above, the university expense in Sweden is $7,506,314,270.00.
The population of Sweden is 10,064,203 as of 2019. We’ll round that down to 10 million for simplicity’s sake and because we’re using cost figures from 2012 when the population was under 10 million, anyway.
$7,506,314,270.00 / 10 million is $750.63. This means that the per capita expense is ~$750 a year for each Swede for their “free” education. If every Swede paid their fair share, including 1-year-olds and the disabled, they would all need to chip in only $750ish a year.
For this model we assume a normal working life of 40 years (22-62).
Over the course of their life, the expense is then $750.63 x 40 = $30,025.20.
Each Swede per capita must pay $30,025.20 over the course of their life for the “free” education.
I am assuming a normal working life of 40 years to be conservative in my model. Many, if not most, Swedes will probably work longer than this. Within the next ten years the age of their “guaranteed pension”, max right-to-work age, and state pension retirement age are all increasing . It will likely be that many Swedes will work until their late 60s instead of 62. This would only increase the amount of tax they pay toward the education system. If they started working at 18 and paid their taxes all the way until 69 they would have 51 years (instead of my models assumption of 40) worth of tax payments to the education system. This would result in a lifetime expense of nearly $75,000 instead of the more conservative estimate of ~$60k I found below.
I hate to add this in but I have to because we all know someone will bring it up. Obviously, high revenue individuals will pay more than this and low-income individuals will probably not contribute a single cent toward it through being net negative taxpayers. We will discuss the “average working Swede” shortly but it is important to understand that every single individual (per capita analysis) in Sweden must cough up this much money a year to fully pay for this system of “free” education.
But wait: not all Swedes are contributing to taxes. A 2-year-old Swede is certainly not paying their fair share every year. Nor is the retired 90-year-old except through minor consumption taxes. Nor are the NEETs (Not in Education, Employment, or Training). Nor someone that is outside the labor force completely. Neither are the people on welfare or otherwise net neutral/negative taxpayers contributing in any way.
For this reason, we can’t say that a taxpayer actually spends that much for free college. Some put nothing toward it. Other people put both their own fair share and “the fair share” required of another.
- What we want to know is how much does an average Swede (40 year work life, net tax payer all 40 years, relatively average income) pay for his or her “free” college?
The Average Andersson’s (Taxpayer) Cost
It is not likely that the labor force participation rate is going to increase or decrease greatly over time, so this is a reliable benchmark to use for this model. It is 72.7% in Sweden.
People outside of the labor force are obviously not contributing much. Naturally, unemployed persons are not contributing to taxes (they are usually using them) so we’re not including them either.
You read that right. Only half of Sweden’s total population (~5M out of 10M) is currently employed by the definition. The rest are unemployed or otherwise outside the labor force.
Many of the employed may be earning sub-average wages and also not contributing to taxes or at least not contributing much. So while this number is as accurate as we can get without pure guesstimating, it still doesn’t capture the full brutal impact of the fiscal problem put on the average earner in Sweden. The cost would be nearly definitely be higher if we could track that information down.
On the contrary to the above, we also are discounting the cost of others. Naturally, persons outside of the labor force are still going to have to buy things like food and gas which would invoke different forms of taxation. Their taxes would contribute to the “free college”. However, I feel this is justifiable because most of those outside of the labor force are likely utilizing some form of governmental welfare to begin with. They are getting money from the government to consume items that are then going to taxes that will further be redistributed right back to them. This likely would have an impact on the number for the average Swede, but given this situation I would argue that the impact would not be very large.
Not everyone that I discard as outside the labor force is a malicious actor on welfare. They could be in poor health, doing housework, retired, a full-time student, taking care of relatives, etc. But as mentioned above, it is unlikely they are directly contributing to taxes as a net taxpayer. They likely use more taxes than they provide to society, especially in Sweden where social welfare systems are large and plentiful.
This model assumes no national debt. Obviously, if you put half of the expense to “debt” it would render the cost to the taxpayers as much smaller than the real value would be. Additionally, if you take on debt to finance this, the number would increase as the taxpayer would have to pay off the debt along with the interest on that debt.
With this new employed person information, we can calculate two items. First, the annual cost and secondly the over-life cost of their “free” college on an average Swede.
The cost is still $7,506,314,270.00 for the year. There are now 5,110,000 net taxpayers for the year.
$7,506,314,270.00 / 5,110,000 is $1,468.95. This is the number that the average employed Swede must contribute each year to the university expense to cover it fully without any money being added to the national debt. Multiply that by the lifetime of work (that we set at a reasonable 40 years): $1,468.95 x 40 = $58,758.
That is the number we are after. Bit higher than you expected, considering they said it was supposed to be free, right?
The average working Swede will pay $58,758 over the course of their life to pay for their “free college”.
Think we’re done yet?
It gets even more fun!
(Sidenote: ~$1,500 may at first seem high as a yearly expense. But think about it in total terms. The average Swedish income is rather low at about $32,000 a year. They pay 70% of this in taxes. That is $22,400 in taxes a year. $1500 is then only about 6-7% of their total tax bill, which is rather proportional to how much Sweden spends on higher education in general.)
Additional Negative Considerations in The Land of Free Stuff Beyond The Huge Lifetime Cost
A common argument in the US for why education should be free is because it would allow more people to go to college. Well, this is a garbage argument because most Swedes still don’t have a college education.
Only 37% of the Swedish population has “some level of post-secondary education” where post-secondary education is defined as what Americans would call college.
So every single working Swede is paying nearly $60,000 in taxes for only 37% to have “some form” of college education.
The Swede that never went to college but went to trade school is subsidizing the education of people who will outperform him or her in the employment marketplace.
The Swedish person who receives no benefit from this system will still pay the equivalent of 2 full in-state U.S. degrees over their lifetime. Don’t believe me? Let’s discuss costs:
The average cost for public in-state tuition in the US is $3,570 for two-year colleges and $9,970 in the US (Statistical side note: This figure obviously does not include room and board, but neither does the Swedes as we will discuss below).
If you study at a community college in the US for two years and then do two years at a university, you would pay $27,080 for your tuition in total. Even if you did four full years at a university, your bill would only be $39,880.
The average working Swede is paying $58,758 for their “free” college tuition over their life while the average US student would pay $27,080 – $39,880 upfront.
Part one: There is an obvious issue with this comparison. With the Swedes, I include personal tuition and government cost. With the US, I include personal tuition but not government cost. Trying to include government cost presents many issues, but I will try it here. The US government spent ~330 billion in the year in question in tertiary costs. This includes 30 million fed, 260 state, and 40 local. However, taxes aren’t the only revenue source for state and local jurisdictions in the US. Half of their revenue comes from other sources. This reduces the total tax burden to 180 billion. The problem with this analysis is Uncle Sam earns money off of interest on loans given to students as well. The federal government gives the states/localities some of their funding for education. So any profit from loans should consider going toward this education burden. The US student loan debt is currently 1.5 trillion. Assuming a moderate interest rate of 5% (it’s a minimum of 2.05% + treasury note for the lowest loan, most are naturally above 5%), that is 75 billion in interest annually (The “fair value” accounting argument for market risk is garbage, student loans can’t be discharged in bankruptcy and thus present minimal risk). That brings the tax burden to 105 billion. However, if we consider the interest payments to go toward the fed, it would pay off the fed expense entirely. Thus, the majority of expenses are state and local. Different states and different counties have different tax rates. So, it is more of a personal decision how much each American gives to the higher education system by deciding on where to live. California or New York City would have much higher rates than Wyoming or Ohio. Even the cities would matter. In Salt Lake County versus a rural Utah county would be vastly different. Some localities have practically 0 expense and some states share nearly none as well. This is not the case in Sweden. However, for argument’s sake we can try it, anyway.
The expense burden is 105 billion. We have to pay off this entire amount to ensure no debt is added. 105 billion divided by the employed persons in US (158.5 million) is $662.46. Assuming the same 40 year work life that comes out to $26,498.40. $26,498.40 + our base level college cost of $30,000 is $56,498.40. Which is still lower than the Swede cost of $58,758. Again, this methodology would not be exactly accurate due to the living decision, loan decision, and cost decision of college students. Still, no matter what way you look at it, average the Swede pays more for college.
Important notes for the above: there are more students in the US than in Sweden. Even with significantly more students and significantly more universities and 4 instead of 3 year degrees and significantly more options of degrees and better universities and stronger faculty we still pay less, even when you consider full amounts. Even more hilarious, every Swede must pay their cost ($58,758). Only those with college degrees would have to pay our cost ($56,498). Anyone else in the U.S. without a college degree would only pay their tax cost, which is $26,498.40. Which is under half of what the Swede without a college degree would pay because every Swede must pay the full cost. In addition, since the majority of the US expense is through state and local tax instead of federal tax, we do not typically pay the majority of this through income. Most state and local areas tax primarily through sales taxes, which is the exact opposite of Sweden. Their smaller government taxes are primarily through income taxes (local and state).
The 1.5 trillion number for student loan debt is also “scary” at face value. But it’s a boring scare tactic. Consider this: 1.5 trillion divided by 100 million (the population is well over three times this) is only $15,000 a person. Or you could say $30,000 in average loans for 50 million people, which accounts for only 15% of the population. Very reasonable loan amounts and population size. This also presents sizeable interest potential for the government to offset these other university costs as we discussed.
We can say that the average American student would pay that amount, but it isn’t exactly fair. We also have grants, student loan forgiveness, and a plethora of other issues that make this messy. But as a rule of thumb, this is an acceptable and reasonable level.
Part two: I recognize that most U.S. students take on loans and this would then increase the cost because of interest. However, even if they took out $30,000 in loans and had a repayment of 10 years with a 4% interest rate, they still would only pay $6,448.25 in interest, adding the full cost to $36,448.25. That’s still over 20 grand cheaper than the “free college” alternative even with loans and interest. However, you have to consider the average student loan amount isn’t that high, as we’ll discuss more below. We also offset interest on loans through tax write-offs. If you calculated all of the benefits and drawbacks with the American model including this decent sized loan balance and interest, it likely would be nearly identical to the Swedish cost. However, we must make a special note that the Swedish cost is required whereas the American cost isn’t. Americans can choose to go to college, choose to go to cheaper colleges, choose to live with parents, choose to be frugal with loans, work throughout to pay off loans while offsetting interest, etc. The working Swede has to pay their cost regardless of circumstance, even if they don’t attend college at all. Additionally, as we’ll discuss below, many more Swedish students graduate with debt than U.S. students so that argument is lame to begin with.
Please note once again that the price for the Swede also only holds if they work 40 years. If they work over 40 years, make more than the average income, or otherwise have to pay taxes into their retirement, their cost would explode. The same is not true of the American. The Swedish figure would easily top $70,000-$80,000 with only a few extra years and above-average incomes. So the “interest rate” argument is rather irrelevant. Swedes have no incentive to earn more income, except to pay for more of the next generation’s tuition.
Swedes are also no stranger to student loan debt and interest rates of their own, which we will further discuss below.
If the Swede works harder and generates more income they will also pay significantly more than the base number of $58,758. Remember, this is just an average of net tax payers. Wealthier individuals will be able to purchase more (pay more in consumption and VAT taxes), pay more in income taxes, and require their employer to pay more (lost potential salary) in payroll taxes. The average tax grab in Sweden is 70%, after all.
Now we usually get to the part where the free-muh-college sorority sisters say something like: “at least it’s a fair society where students don’t have to worry about tuition and debt!11!!”.
Which is arguably the most hilarious part about all of this.
Sweden has “free” college but they have student debt that is nearly on-par with American students:
Mad Facts About Student Loan Debt in Sweden (Literally, The Swedes Should Be Mad)
- In 2013, the average student loan debt for a US student was $24,800. For the students in FreeTopia (Sweden) it was $19,000. Just lol.
- Top on the fact that 85% of Swedish students graduate with debt, while only 50% of American students do.
- Then top on top of that the fact that Swedish students graduate with the highest DTI (debt to income) ratio of any students in the world at 80% because of their low income potential from the rather poor public college scheme along with the high student loan debt.
Then top on top on top of – I’m tired of this. Let’s just skip it. But they do also have longer-term loans of 25 years, meaning the Swedish students will pay more in interest if they don’t prioritize paying off the debt sooner than Americans who usually have around 10 year repayment plans.
Think about that: 25 years of interest payments on that debt. Even the US isn’t that cruel, at least we have student loan forgiveness plans. When considering that all debt is bad debt: it’s all terrible, we come to realize how bad this situation sucks for the Swedes.
Another fun fact: only 39% of Swedes have some form of tertiary education completion compared to 44% in the US. Apparently our cost isn’t such a roadblock, after all (2014 OECD data).
How does this debt situation happen? Well, because cost of living is high in Sweden, mostly because of their socialist system. They may have “free” college (AKA: not free, actually more expensive) but they don’t get free room and board, food, travel expenses, or anything else that costs far more than tuition does. Those numbers add up quick in an expensive place like Sweden.
How Does This Happen? A Quick Rundown For The “I Want Free College But How Do Taxes Work?” Gang
Taxes discourage work, working more, or progressing in your career, especially at a 70% level. Why spend an extra 20 hours a week building your skills or your business if you will see none of that money? You could theoretically consume more, but… why? You could just not work and make reasonably the same amount.
This structure also heavily promotes tax avoidance or moving overseas as a high income earner. There’s a reason why most Swede’s run to neighboring European countries when their income hits a certain amount.
When Swedish municipalities receive increased funding from the taxpayers, the money is used to expand the local bureaucracy instead of going to education and other avenues where it should. These municipalities also have a deep hand up them that’s called the central government. Many Swede’s say that “income taxes are mostly municipal and county” but that money is still used by the central government for things like healthcare and education.
Breaking News: The Cost of College Doesn’t Magically Change Across A Border
One thing I think people cannot mentally understand is that the cost of college is not different between the US and Sweden.
It’s not that the expense just disappears when the morons label it as “free”. It’s just an indirect expense to everyone instead of a direct expense to the ones directly advantaging from it.
As I said above, the Swede that does not go to college is directly subsidizing their market rivals.
The only difference in cost is that the US requires cost upfront from a consumer where the Swedish have a middle-man. Someone has to pay the middleman. Therefore, the cost would be slightly higher in Sweden overall since they have a middleman and the U.S. does not.
It’s not that a “free college” policy suddenly makes the entire expense of college disappear. It’s that the government thinks you’re too stupid to manage your own money and pay for things yourself so they do it for you instead. The Swede is still paying this cost, it’s just cycling through the government first.
Mo Money, Mo Problems – Except in Sweden Because The Government Doesn’t Let You Keep Any Money
A large sector of the Swedish population exists solely off of welfare due to it being a principal welfare state. This reduces equal taxation among the entire population and requires working class taxpayer Swedes to pay far more for their “free” college.
For example, a good contributing Swede with just slightly above average income would easily pay over $70,000 for “free” college over the course of their life in taxes. Since they are above the average income, they would pay above the average tax obligation.
As I’ve shown, “free” is always more expensive in the end.
Also, the schools themselves aren’t that great. There is a reason the U.S. has some of the best schools in the world. In Sweden, there aren’t even incentives to keep students; conversely, reducing the number of “free” students is a desirable outcome for schools so they can keep more money. There are many reports showing that this is something they do not try to avoid. This socialist incentive problem is a key distinction between colleges in the U.S. and those in Europe. U.S. schools need a high retention and graduation rate to attract new consumers (students).
Enrollment in higher education is significantly higher in the United States than in free model countries such as Sweden and Germany, as well. So clearly the cost is not the reason for the number of students in any country.
We have also noticed trends of overcrowding, inaccessible faculty, and a lack of amenities in these institutions. They have to when attempting to cut costs. And that’s the key: in a government-controlled environment, they must control costs.
They control these costs by limited those who qualify or by practicing policies aimed at weeding out students who don’t perform well with large class sizes and inattentive faculty. These free college drawbacks are clearly evidenced in places like Germany that lack any of the amenities that U.S. college students would expect.
Don’t Start Chanting “USA! USA!” Just Yet – The U.S. Is Not Without Flaw
The reason education costs as much as it does in the US is largely because of federal intervention. Look at the graphs of when the US started funding student loans. That’s exactly when the cost started to explode  .
The universities knew they had guaranteed funding and opened up 15 diversity offices for the hell of it. These insane prices will only increase with more governmental intervention.
Hell, our 2020 candidates’ thoughts on student loans are just as stupid as the people that think Swedish college is actually free.
Most Americans don’t even know if Uncle Sam is earning interest on their student loans or not.
But our college bill is cheaper for the average citizen, we have better educational attainment statistics, and we have a more reasonable college system.
If you make over a certain amount, your bill would be a lot cheaper, too! Maybe if the colleges in Sweden were as good as ours, they could teach them how to do this (rather, basic) level of math (yes, I’m talking sh*t. We deserve it after having to listen to people claim this BS as ‘free’ for so long).
As I was saying, we also have a more reasonable college system because we base it on consumption. The consumption model dictates that to finance higher education, the consumer (student) pays for the good they use (education). In the free model, everyone pays for a good only some use.
Likewise, with research, we do the same. Researchers who deliver innovative, societally beneficial research are kept afloat by the profit system. Whereas under Sweden’s system, they keep researchers around regardless because the taxpayers are paying for it and they don’t have to answer to any profit system. They could study pumpkin stem color-changes for all anyone cares. Our system keeps research reasonable, profitable, and socially beneficial.
I have no doubt that if we could get a hold of the statistics for other free collegers countries such as Denmark or Germany it would show the same trend that “free” college is actually more expensive over the course of your life than a normal consumer system.
Sadly, good luck with that. Sweden barely provided enough data as it is to scrape this together. I tried it with Germany first, but they have far too many roadblocks to complete an accurate cost analysis.
If you took special care and read the statistical sections like I told you to at the beginning, you’d know the US and Swedish cost is actually very close when considering graduate costs. If you consider the educational expenses and lifetime costs for both countries, the overall cost of them both is not too far off for that one category of person. This is because the US spends a ton on higher education, so we’re on the hook for some state and local tertiary taxes too.
However, in the US if you don’t benefit from the college degree you don’t pay the full cost. You only pay the life-time tax cost for supporting state/local expenditures on colleges which is well under half of what Swedes pay. It also depends heavily on where you live how much of this you would actually pay. We have a ridiculous amount more colleges per capita, better colleges, better faculty, more students, longer terms (4 year vs 3 year), and higher degree attainment while also presenting a lower overall cost. The college student may sometimes pay equal to what the Swede does, but no one else has to pay that much for their market rival. Except in Sweden, where you do.
Through this article the free college dudes and dudettes should clearly see that Sweden is not cheaper or better than the US system.
So the U.S. system is not without flaws. But we’re better than Sweden, at least.
What Should You Say When The Next FreeBrah You Encounter Talks About “Free College”?
Keep it simple, just say:
- Your “free” college costs more than my paid college, brah.
And then link them to this article.
Enjoy your newfound fiscal literacy. Don’t tell the Swedes.
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