We recently reported on a new push to make Harvard free for undergrads. This is the rebuttal.

Market Watch reports.

Free tuition to Harvard? Sounds great. Here’s the problem

A group of five men — including lawyer and consumer advocate Ralph Nader — running to be part of one of Harvard’s governing bodies has proposed making tuition free to all undergraduates in a campaign called “Free Harvard, Fair Harvard.”

As families face soaring tuition (and subsequent student debt) the idea of a free Ivy League education sounds pretty good. But it’s also extremely complicated — and unlikely. Harvard didn’t respond to a request for more details, but more coverage is available in the New York Times article.

In addition to Nader, the group includes software developer and publisher Ron Unz, professor and tech entrepreneur Stephen Hsu, journalist and lawyer Stuart Taylor Jr. and Lee C. Cheng, a co-founder of the Asian-American Legal Foundation.

Although such an extreme stance is good for attention-grabbing, in reality taking the position of making Harvard tuition free is “silly,” said Ann Marcus, the director of New York University’s Steinhardt Institute of Higher Education Policy.

“Free tuition always sounds appealing, but it’s almost never really a good idea,” Marcus said, pointing out that many families whose children attend Harvard now can afford to pay some or all of the tuition costs.

“Harvard could be better spending their money bringing in more low-income students and moderate income students, as opposed to millionaires who can already afford to pay the tuition and will go to Harvard regardless,” said Mamie Voight, the director of policy research at the Institute for Higher Education Policy, a nonpartisan nonprofit that focuses on access to higher education.

“What public purpose is being served by giving something free to rich people?” asked Richard Vedder, an economist and professor at Ohio University.

About 15% of the class of 2019 comes from families with an income of more than $500,000, about 18% have family income of between $250,000 and $500,000 and about 23% have family income of $125,000 to $250,000, according to the Harvard Crimson’s 2019 Freshman Survey.