Before we return to our discussion of “free college,” I have to share with you my two favorite T shirts from our vacation to Mexico. The first one read, “Good friends don’t let you do stupid things … Alone.” The second one read, “You can’t scare me, I have 5 daughters.”

As promised in the last column when we introduced the subject, in this column we will begin talking about some of the many “DETAILS” that come up when you talk with taxpayers who don’t accept the proposition that college is somehow necessary today to be successful, so that free college of some sort is just an extension of our free K-12 system. Governor Cuomo put it this way when he introduced his proposal: “This society should say, ‘We’re going to pay for college because you need college to be successful.'"

Having discussed “free college” with a number of taxpayers while I was on vacation — including taxpayers from New York, Florida, Wisconsin, Minnesota, South Dakota and Illinois — when sitting down to write this column, I found it hard to know where to even start, or how to best organize the various issues and responses that came up. I have decided to just lay out the “details” they were concerned about in the order that represents how often the issue came up. Also, I will admit that most of these taxpayers are older.

First, the one thing that I heard, over and over again, was that we are doing a horrible job of educating many of our young people in our K-12 system. Therefore, the concern expressed was, what does it even mean today to be admitted to many state community colleges and four-year institutions, if that is the only academic qualification needed to benefit from a “free college” proposal? Certainly there are some highly qualified students at some elite public institutions. We all know some. However, aren’t there many students at public institutions who are not fully college-ready, even by today’s standards? The discussions on this “qualification” issue included some of the things that we have talked about in this column, like systemic grade inflation at the high school and college levels; students and parents seeing a college degree as just a commodity, a qualification for a possible better job, not necessarily to obtain a great education; and the fact that roughly 40 percent of incoming students at community colleges are required to take one or more remedial classes.

Then, who even wants to go down the rabbit hole of a certain minimum score on standardized tests as a necessary academic qualification? I know that I don’t in this series.

When YOU, as a taxpayer, think about who should benefit from some form of “free college," if there is going to be such a program, state and/or federal, what kind of student do you think of? Is he or she a hard-working, ambitious, serious student that has some critical thinking skills, good marks, intellectual curiosity, and some career direction?

Personally, when I think of the “qualification issue," I can’t help but remember a conversation that I had a few years ago with a European high school exchange student. She couldn’t believe that some of the students in her American school were actually going to college. I won’t go in to how she described them, but it certainly didn’t sound much like the serious, hard-working student described in the previous paragraph. She remarked that, “They would never go to college in my country.”

Before we leave the “qualification” issue, the discussions also included how systemic grade inflation might undercut any requirement that a student maintain a certain grade point average — let’s say a 2.5 (C+) — or be on track to graduate on time (admittedly, one of my big issues). People asked, what does it mean today to have a 2.5 grade point average, when the average college grade is a B? What might a 2.5 grade point average equate to if it were the 1970s? Would "free college” incentivize colleges and professors to reduce or eliminate grade inflation? We, anecdotally, hear about teachers teaching to the test in the high schools. Does that happen in the colleges?

How many college students have you heard say that their fellow students don’t work that hard, and just know how to get B’s, and it’s not because they are super smart? I have talked to a lot of them, and at good private schools.

We are just getting warmed up. In the next column: Do we really need so many more college graduates that we need free college for those who have not otherwise earned it? Also, should it really be free with no requirement that they give something back?

John Ninfo is a retired bankruptcy judge and the founder of the National CARE Financial Literacy Program.