Nothing in the world is free. Someone always pays.

Red Alert Politics reports.

Dear Bernie: “Free college” restricts access, doesn’t control costs, and hurts taxpayers

The difficulty with free college is that it isn’t, and treating it as “free” obscures the shifting costs that proponents advocate.

Andrew Kelly of the American Enterprise Institute argued in the New York Times that “free college” is a flawed approach and can drive up college costs.

“Free college isn’t free, it simply shifts costs from students to taxpayers and caps tuition at zero,” Kelly writes. “That tuition cap limits college spending to whatever the public is willing to invest. But it does not change the cost of college, or what institutions actually spend per student. If the past is any guide, that cost will continue to grow, and an influx of federal money may lead profligate administrators to spend even more.”

When colleges have access to more funding, or students able to pay a higher premium for a degree, higher education has a talent for finding new spending items. Relying on the government to provide more funding isn’t likely to change that tendency. Shifting costs do little to rein in rising costs; the only way to do that is to limit funding, or reform how colleges receiving funding.

“Free college” plans do neither.

That those plans do little to make college more affordable is enough of a concern. The reliance on public funding could restrict access, as tuition-free colleges can’t raise revenues to keep pace with rising enrollments.

The appeal of free college is strong. It signals a commitment to education access, a concern for equality and social advancement, and a passion for reform. Unfortunately, reality cannot deliver the promised results. The high cost of college and low graduation rates call into question how the United States treats career training. The development of higher education might be outdated, or its monopoly on employer preferences might need challenged.