Alan Caron, an independent candidate for governor, just aired an ad calling for two years of “free college.” Other candidates espouse similar plans. However, when anyone is going to school, someone is paying.

Call it what it is: taxpayer-subsidized education. Call it a scholarship or a grant – just don’t call it “free.”

To be fair to Caron, his website points out that his “free” plan is in the form of a “no-interest loan,” portions of which will be forgiven for each year a graduate lives and works in Maine.

I do not believe any postsecondary education should be subsidized. When an individual is responsible for education, that person makes choices based on the value of that investment.

That said, if a state or community wants to subsidize education to satisfy specific needs, so be it. That’s why if education is subsidized, it makes sense to focus those resources on training engineers, scientists, teachers and medical professionals.

No matter how you benefit from education subsidies, your obligation is gratitude. Instead, we see a growing movement demanding “free” education for a wide range of study tracks that offer no specific or immediate benefit to the community at large. Yet every member of that community is expected to pay for it.

We’ll hear much more about “free” college during this campaign. Just realize that every time you hear a candidate talk about “free” education – it means you, rather than the student, is paying the tuition.

Jim Bouchard