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The Costs of Higher Education

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The Costs of Higher Education

Valerie Aguilar

Imperial Valley College


Millions of college students like myself graduate high school then go on to further our education. Most if not all students get a higher education for the belief that once we get this degree it leads us to a world of endless possibilities for a better life. Yet, it turns out that not only are the costs to achieve this higher education way too high, but after achieving your dream of obtaining a degree of higher education are you left with massive amounts of debt. In order to find out how this social issue evolved into one of the biggest problems we face today I conducted research to analyze the problem, understand what caused it, and what solutions are being proposed to stop it. While analyzing the issue I looked at its history and found that when our economy was in a recession that the government cut state funds to public and private universities and colleges countrywide. To compensate for the lack of resources the universities raised the costs of tuition which in time lead to students being drowned in debt for their schooling. Our country is now trillions of dollars in debt and they are looking for solutions to solve this problem and so far have come up with a few programs to help students better afford the costs of higher education. These findings shed light on the reason student debt is at its highest it’s ever been and that we need to find the best possible solution to fix it so future generations won’t be discouraged to strive for a better education.

The Costs of Higher Education

Over the years there has been a dramatic increase in university tuition in the United States. College debt is at its maximum level, and students are paying the price for simply wanting a higher education. “By the year 2020 students are looking forward to accomplishing a four-year university degree with a bill that's likely to top $240,000 for private schools and $155,000 at public universities.”, according to authors of the article “Stop the Tuition Madness. Its a fact that education is classified as a fundamental human right. Which means every single person who is willing to achieve a higher education in this country has the right to regardless whether they can pay for it or not. Institutions have slowly over the years changed the foundation of higher education. In the now and future public universities seem to be transforming into private establishments. According to author Konczal (2015) he said, “Education is a right that the government must grant. Higher education, then, shouldn’t be left to a handful of private schools, where administrators pursue their own objectives independent of public need, or to the market, which is only interested in how much it can profit at any given time.”  The whole reason why there is public higher education is to give everyone a opportunity to receive quality higher education no matter what economic background they come from. However, now these students who’ve strived for this quality education are achieving their dreams along with serious amounts of debt in student loans. In an editorial from the magazine America titled “The Student Debt Crisis” the author states, “Research shows that upon graduation, many borrowers--who make up 60 percent of the graduating class nationwide--are struggling to make timely payments. Recent graduates, who often lack the lucrative job offers and competitive salaries obtained by their predecessors, have very few options if they cannot make their payments. Once the deferment period ends--usually six months after graduation--borrowers must begin making payments immediately.” How are students expected to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars only after just graduating and have not yet acquired a job that would give them the means to do so? The answer is simple, they can’t. To find out if it is possible to help our society with this issue first what has to be done is to analyze it, find out what causes it, then see if any solutions can or have been formed to end it.

A brief timeline referenced from “College Education Leading Issues Timelines” will showcase only some of the important events in college education history. In 1944 President Franklin D. Roosevelt passed a law known as the G.I. Bills allowing veterans from World War II free college tuition. By 1965, The Higher Education Act provided aid with federal scholarships and low-interest loans for college students. Seven years later (1972) the Basic Educational Opportunities Grants (BEOG) program began and was later renamed Pell Grants. This program was created for students who were attending college full-time and were in good standing academically at their college of choice. Jump almost twenty years later in 1990 where its noted colleges and universities were faced with a financial crisis causing an increase in tuition cost, a high number of enrollment drops, and budgets cut. In 2002 College Boards claimed that the average cost of attending a four-year public college cost $9,633 including tuition and boards, while the cost of attending a private four-year college was set at $18,272 for tuition alone and an additional $6,779 for room and board. In line with the cost of tuition a student loan company Nellie Mae stated that the average loan debt for students with a bachelor’s degree was $18,900 up 66% compared to the previous 5 years. A quick stop in 2010 to note that student loan debt overtook credit card debt for the first time ever. Since 2002 the cost of tuition rose in 2011 to $38,590 at private colleges and $17,130 at public colleges. In 2012 about one-third of 25 to 29-year old held a bachelor's degree reaching a record high then the following year in 2013 a study given out by the Center for College Affordability and Productivity showed that 48% of all workers with a college degree were employed in jobs that the US Labor Department classified as jobs that required less than a four-year college education. Moving on to January 2015 President Barack Obama proposed making community college tuition free for all students, However, In December of 2016 there is shown to be a decrease in college undergraduate enrollment of 16.3 million in that year according to a report done by the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center making it the fifth consecutive year for a decline. Now just last year in 2017 the Wall Street Journal/NBC News did a survey illustrating Americans feelings on education stating, “Americans are losing faith in the value of a college degree, with majorities of young adults, men and rural residents saying college isn’t worth the cost.”  Throughout the course of history higher education was at first not the easiest to obtain, but then later it became more accessible to everyone in society. Today there are still these programs implanted to help students with the cost of university it's just not enough.  According to Hall (2016),” approximately 44 million consumers now owe roughly $1.3 trillion in student's loans, according to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, with one out of four student loan borrowers past due.” That’s an insane amount of debt and this was two years ago. The burden of student loan debt is not only affecting the students financially and in their belief in education itself, but it has also affected the housing market. People aren’t buying houses because they fell into a hole of debt. Specifically, the millennial generation are the individuals who have been impacted the most by all of this, “Many millennials are not pursuing home ownership due to their financial situations. A recent survey conducted by NeighborWorks America found nearly 30 percent of Americans knew someone that delayed buying a home because of student loan debt, up from 28 percent in a 2015 survey by the organization and from 24 percent in a 2014 survey. Among survey respondents identifying themselves as potential home buyers, 53 percent with student loan debt said their debt was somewhat or very much an obstacle to buying a home.” The student debt crisis has had a negative impact on a number of social institutions like family, economy, and education.

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