College is too expensive for everyone. Since the time we entered ninth grade, we have been taught the key to success in life is to do well in high school in order to be accepted into the college of our choice. The better grades we receive, the better colleges we will be accepted into. If we are accepted into a prestigious college and earn a degree, then we will be able to have any type of job we desire in the field we studied in. Once we obtain our dream job, we will make a sufficient amount of money to spend on fancy cars, a big house and supporting a family.
That is the American dream sold to our generation, and it is still widely bought. But as thousands of college graduates are finding out, post graduation time is not as simple as they were told, and sometimes it can be devastating.
According to the College Board, this year’s in-state tuition and fees have increased by 6 percent from last year, boosting the average cost for a four-year institution up beyond $17,000 including room and board. Most students are forced to deal with these high tuition costs by taking out multiple student loans.
Although college students can work throughout the school year in order to pay off some of their loans, the vast majority are leaving school with thousands of dollars in debt and are unable to find a career. College seniors who take out loans in order to finance their education now graduate with an average of $24,000 in debt. This number is so outstanding that the student loan debt now exceeds credit card debt among Americans.
Back in the 1970s, the average college student could afford their college tuition without any student loans or help from their parents. They were able to pay for college by working a part-time job yearround, or full-time during the summer. This sounds like a whole other world to college students now who are accustomed to working jobs just in order to pay for textbooks and a place to live.
As a college freshman, I was shocked to discover that some of my textbooks cost up to $200 with no resale value. When trying to find used books for cheaper prices, I quickly learned that the majority of textbooks must be bought new each year because authors consistently come up with slightly revised versions.
Many people wonder why college tuition continues to rapidly increase while cell phones, TV sets, laptops and other merchandise decrease in value. This is because the government does not subsidize purchases of these products. If there were a true free market in college education, colleges would figure out more cost effective ways to educate students by employing modern technologies to bring tuition prices down and compete against each other in the enrollment of students.
By guaranteeing student loans to any student who requests them, the U.S. government destroyed the free market of college education. The government needs to get out of the college business, and allow independent banks to offer loans to students. Most students would not qualify for these bank loans and therefore could not afford college. However, this lack of enrollment would force colleges to lower their tuition or close their doors.
It is true that college is not always necessary to secure the career of your choice, and more high school students should consider other alternatives to four-year universities. However, in today's world, if you have a degree you are more likely to be taken seriously as a candidate for most professional jobs. Not too long ago, most of these jobs did not even require a degree. Now that attending college is so normal, they ask for it on applications. The college degree is quickly becoming the new high school diploma.
So the next generation of graduating high school students are left wondering what to do. As tuition continues to skyrocket, students, families and society become increasingly concerned. We all know it takes money to make money, but at what point do you draw the line?
Since most of you reading this are college students, remember to think hard before you take out a student loan or decide to screw around for a few semesters. You are paying thousands of dollars every year just to be here, so use all your resources, study hard, become involved and look for every beneficial opportunity available to you. You owe it to yourself, your parents or whoever is paying your college tuition.
As for the cost of college rising faster than income — it cannot go on forever simply because people cannot afford it. So hang tight, America, because it has to get worse before it gets any better.