When I taught consumer finance to law students and consumer advocates, I always warned my students about “free” financial products. Few things, I told them, are truly free.
Every time my students saw the word free, I urged them to focus on the three “C’s”: costs; catches and consequences. One or more of these three “C’s” would almost always be present – whether visible or intended. The task was to figure out how the provider of the so-called free product was moving money out of the consumer’s pocket into the provider’s pocket.
It should not be surprising that when the White House announced it was proposing free community college, I was not immediately overjoyed by the idea of free. What are the costs, catches and consequences?
We want more and more Americans – from young adults onward – to receive quality post-high school education.
With the growing equity gap between low and high income families, we need to enable more low income families to access higher education for which “cost” has been a barrier to entry and a burden to carry post graduation. <Read more.>