Hillary Clinton has a plan for "free" college–it's basically just transferring the cost of college to the already-overburdened taxpayer. There is an unmistakable sense of entitlement in thinking that one deserves to go to college at the taxpayer's expense.

But there's another kind of free college–the Appalachian work colleges, as described in an inspiring story in the Weekly Standard. There is no tuition, but students work their way through college doing menial and manual jobs.

Writer Alice Lloyd describes Berea College and Alice Lloyd College (the name is coincidental–the author has no family connection to the college) in the eastern Kentucky hills. It is a region of poverty, addiction and where the work ethic has been "corroded by welfare dependency."

The work colleges improve the lives of the students and the region:

One hindrance to economic progress in eastern Kentucky is brain drain. Children of the hills set free by education and success will choose, understandably, to settle elsewhere. Kentucky work college graduates, though, keep coming back to the bereft region. Data reported by the schools demonstrate the highlands' homeward draw: Over 80 percent of Alice Lloyd graduates return to serve the surrounding counties in their chosen profession.

A significant plurality every year come to Berea from within Kentucky and a majority from southern Appalachian states—and while alumni span the globe, most have settled nearby. Biology, fortuitously, is the most popular major at both colleges. With medical care one of the region's most dire deficits, these bio majors hold the key to the future of rural health management.

Wendy Welch, director of the Graduate Medical Education Consortium of Southwestern Virginia and editor of Public Health in Appalachia, noted, "No one else 'gets us,' understands the unique mixture of pride and challenges found in rural culture, or believes that the solutions already seeded within these communities can be tweaked and fostered to provide long-lasting effects." Education, the founding mission of both regionally focused institutions, comes next among top-choice majors at Alice Lloyd; likewise, of 8,000 surveyed Berea alumni, 1,455 became teachers.

Instead of regarding college students as privileged and deserving of mandatory taxpayer pampering, I wish that Mrs. Clinton had examined the model of these colleges and their hardworking students. Lloyd suggests as much:

Educators concerned with rising college costs and a student debt bubble would do well to draw lessons from the work college financial model. A low-income ceiling for admission to Berea ($53,000 for a family of four with one in college) and the geographical limits to the tuition guarantee at Alice Lloyd exclude most American families, but Berea president Lyle Roelofs thinks the model may yet catch on: "I very much believe that the Berea idea could germinate elsewhere in other institutions or even create new institutions." He described a vision of "Berea in New Mexico, where the tribes of the American Southwest could come together," with an attachment to the region "as powerful as the experience of Appalachia here." Secondary schools, he said, should also consider work programs—not just to provide vocational training, but because hard work helps hammer the kinks out of adolescence.

It's true that work college students, thoughtful and strikingly mature, bear the quiet dignity of purposeful work. While their counterparts across the country rallied for "free college" this year, students at Berea and Alice Lloyd—who technically live the dream—were busy tending their own gardens.

Most important, it looks like these schools offer a solid education:  

In academic dean and English professor Claude "Lafie" Crum, on the other hand, you find Alice Lloyd's William Stoner. Like the hero of John Williams's ageless campus novel, Lafie found his life's work by a strange surprise, when his soul lighted on the unknown gifts of a literary calling. His favorite novel to teach new students is James Still's River of Earth, the pinnacle of Appalachian literature, in which he first found folks like himself and his family, a forgotten people, celebrated in fiction.

Advanced seminars have their rewards, but Lafie favors labor-intensive freshman composition. He likened an Alice Lloyd freshman to someone who's "never seen the ocean before, who sees the ocean for the first time, and you get to watch them see it." Kentucky public schools' commitment to standardized test preparation means a high school senior won't have sunk their teeth into a meaty novel before they find a seat in Lafie's freshman comp—but once they do, "they figure out how smart they really are, and they just run with it."

Students at Berea protested last year when there was a wave of campus protests–but mildly and the without the vitriol or anger aimed at the school administrators in more privileged colleges. Nobody got shouted down on the Berea campus.  

This is how free education should be done.

I urge you to read the entire article.