With the arrival of the new year, it’s great to think big… and big ideas already abound in this still-young year. Multiple colleges have announced that they will slash tuition. UC Davis is trying to showcase unique student achievements through a ‘badging’ system. Gallup and Purdue University are teaming up to measure student outcomes post-graduation. And a senate bill seeks more college accountability for student loans.

But here’s a big idea you may not have heard about: making public college tuition free for all students. Sounds crazy, but it might be significantly less costly than one would think.

So, what would it cost to make public college tuition free for all students? According to the Atlantic’s Jordan Weissmann’s calculations of federal data, it would cost roughly $63 billion dollars of government spending. That amount would be roughly 1.8% of budgeted federal spending. However, as Weissmann points out, a certain percentage of that $63 billion dollars is already spent in the form of pell grants. So, the actual additional federal, state and local spending that would be required would be closer to $40 billion (roughly 1.2% of federal spending). [click here to read the full article]

With 71% of college graduates taking on debt at roughly $29,400 per student, maybe this is one big idea that’s worth some extra attention in the new year.