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College (Un)affordability

Updated on May 5, 2017

It is 2017, the housing market has been in a steady recovery mode since 2012, US per capita GDP and household net worth are both at an all-time high, the US dollar dominates currency through stability, the Dow Jones Industrial Average is reaching historic heights, yet 7 in 10 students graduating from a four-year college program have student loan debts burdening them as they move into the “real world”.

The real world to students means finally getting a real job, making a generous amount of money, and providing for oneself. There is also the idea in student’s minds that with having a real job and finally being considered an adult, they will be able to make a difference in society. For many, this will be difficult since the average college student with loan debt is already $37, 172 in the hole.

How can such an issue be solved? For a student who is strongly against big government, this can be tricky to answer. One could argue that the government could better allocate its funds to decrease the cost of higher education. For instance, the $110 million spent on constructing buildings left empty in Afghanistan, the failed F-35 Joint Strike Fighter – which has cost $500 billion to date, or the $300 million spent training “moderate” Syrian rebels could be used elsewhere. With budget deficits in areas other than education, less money goes to education and Universities are left to make up for the difference by increasing tuition. For the college itself, the simplest thing that can be done is to make class material requirements that allow students to rent used textbooks or eBooks to alleviate the cost of class supplies. To give perspective of the tuition hike, the published tuition and fees at U.S. colleges and universities rose 1,120 percent from 1978 to 2012. Over the same time period, the price of medical care grew only 601 percent, and the price of food increased by 244 percent. Now, as student loan debt soars above 1.4 trillion, a solution is needed more than ever.

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    • Kara Skinner profile image

      Kara Skinner 9 months ago from Maine

      There definitely needs to be a change to fix this. Applying for scholarships and taking work study isn't enough. For my first year of college, I went to a private college. I got over 15,00o dollars in scholarships in addition to several thousand in government financial aid (not including loans). I got a work study job and hunted for textbook deals but I still had to take out over $25,000 in student loans. If I had stayed at that college I would have graduated with over $100k in debt. Now I'm going to a public college in Florida and living at home and I'll probably be able to pay everything out of pocket until I get my degree.

      While everyone's situation is different, one thing that would help the majority of students is making the meal plan optional for those living on campus. I was forced to spend $8 on every meal even though I could have made my own meals in the dorm kitchen for less than $2 that would have been healthier than the wilted salads, pizza, and brownies I was constantly eating.

      If I didn't have to take that meal plan, I could have probably saved $10k in student loans.