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The debate over the rising cost college is nothing new. Long gone are the days of working through college and graduating debt free. With the rising cost of tuition, room and board, and school books, college is a much more expensive affair. How costly?
According to a recent piece by CNN, it’s estimated that 40 million Americans now have student loan debt, with the majority of folks paying off five-figure debts. (The study conducted by credit bureau Experian states that the number of Americans with student loans is up from 29 million consumers in 2008, quite a large increase in the span of six years!)
So what will this mean for the country’s future? How will these loans affect the way America is educated, and is the prevalence of loan debt making young people rethink college altogether?
Why Is College So Expensive?
You may not realize this, but the student loan crisis is a very recent phenomenon; it’s so recent, in fact, that it didn’t even exist during the eighties! The problem developed for a number of reasons. For starters, the cost of higher education rose much more rapidly than the overall cost of living and wage compensation.
Much of the loan crisis can be attributed to students’ inability to repay loans. They default on their payments and rack up even more interest. It’s a vicious cycle! Though some students today are able to balance schoolwork with a part-time job, there are less part-time jobs to be had. In an age of underemployment and unemployment, students are paying the price.
Defunding of Schools
The educational system suffered another harsh blow when legislators attempted to preserve state college budgets. However, many of them couldn’t, and the defunding resulted in raised tuition. And the issue doesn’t just affect out-of-state students attending their “dream” universities. In actuality, 80% of all U.S. students attend publicly funded colleges. This is a serious concern. If young people are unable to attend college for financial reasons, they are less likely to get good jobs, stimulate the economy, and innovate. Investing in the education of a population is investing in that country’s future. So why isn’t education in the U.S. a bigger priority?
Grants - A Step in the Right Direction
FAFSA and Pell Grants are helping many students return to school. They might not pay for everything, but they definitely put a dent into that chunk of tuition change, especially if you are going back to school after working for awhile. The application process has gotten a lot simpler in recent years, and Obama has been making the initiative a priority. Hopefully, the size of the grants will continue to grow in sync with tuition costs.
Will Students Move to Be Education Overseas?
According to the Washington Post, there are other countries around the world that can offer Americans an education in English for next-to-nothing. Germany offers free education to its citizens, and many of their universities also offer undergraduate programs in English in hopes of attracting foreign students and skilled workers. Finland is another country that will cover tuition costs. However, they won’t cover living expenses, room and board. Still, not too shabby! According to the article, If you’re considering graduate school, France might be a wonderful option. They award one out of every three degrees to foreign students, and most have tuition fees that are much lower than America’s costs. Sweden, Norway, Brazil, and Slovenia are also wonderful options.
What’s it Like Graduating With a Mountain of Debt?
Much has been made of the stereotype of the lazy, entitled millennial. Some of that criticism may be fair. However, today’s graduates face different challenges than their parents endured. it’s hard to dig into the classic ideals of “adulthood” when you’re starting out behind. In a rough economy, many graduates are being forced to live with parents, working survival jobs and paying down what can sometimes amount to six figures on a part-time job!
Community College - An Alternative
Perhaps community college is a more viable option! The tuition is lower, many courses of study offer more practical applications of knowledge, and the cost of “room and board” is lower. If students can graduate with less debt, they might have a better start! In theory, a federal subsidized loan or grant could cover most of the cost.
So what do you think?...
How will future generations handle rising costs in education? Do we need reform? Leave your comments below.