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Flipping burgers at a fast food restaurant, stocking shelves in a grocery store, and working on a production line in a factory are just a few of the many minimum-wage paying jobs that so many people have in America. People in this country are settling for a high school diploma, minimum-wage paying jobs, and broken spirits. The cost of college is too high, and they cannot afford to further their education. Student loan debts are, for the first time in history, exceeding what Americans owe on credit cards—over $1 trillion (Sullivan, 2012, para. 1). For many, the rising cost of college may not be just a news headline, but a real life let down. The core of the problem: tuition and fees at public universities have surged almost 130 percent over the last 20 years, while middle class incomes have idled. (Censky, 2011, p. 1)
Many Americans are not being able to further their education because the cost is too high, which results in having to settle for a poorly paying job. Then when they start a family, they do not have enough money to send their children to college. It really is an endless cycle of an ever-growing lower and middle class. The number of college graduates is becoming less every year because of the increasing rate of tuition, room and board, and fees. At the same time, it is becoming increasingly difficult to find a job above minimum wage without a college diploma.
For much of U.S. history, the chance to obtain a higher education was mainly an opportunity given only to the wealthy (College Tuition Costs, 2004, p. 450). Countless brilliant and smart individuals live in the lower class of our society. It is not fair that they are not getting a chance at furthering their education just because their family cannot afford to send them. Available to certain students, of course, are student loans, grants, scholarships, and financial aid. Sadly, not everyone qualifies for scholarships or receives enough money to even make a dent in the debt they will acquire going to a university for four or more years. Furthermore, a lot of people receive zero help at all in paying for their college education. Since college is becoming less affordable for low-income students, higher education is once again becoming dominated by the wealthy (College Tuition Costs, 2004, p. 452).
Being Held Back Because of Funding
Because of the growing rate of tuition, room and board, and fees at universities, many seniors in high school are deciding where they attend college based on the cost. For many teenagers, the deciding factor of where they go to school is who gives them the biggest scholarship or which school costs less. Instead of going where they truly want to go, and where they know they could get the best education, they have to settle for the school that meets their financial limitations (Cost of College Affecting Application and Acceptance Decisions, 2011, p. 1). People wanting to pursue a higher education should be able to totally devote themselves to their studies. Instead, with a constantly plummeting economy, they have to worry about how to earn money (like get a job) to help pay for their education.
This could be extra worry that students who are trying to focus on their studies should not have! Scholarships are very unlikely to cover the total cost and students who manage to obtain one successfully still have to work to earn their living. Earning enough money to pay for a college education is next to impossible with a part-time job, while working full-time leaves students with no time to study, which means that the money is actually wasted! With the cost of college constantly increasing, many students that are already in college cannot finish because they do not have the funds. The thought of trying to start out a life in the “real world” with potentially over $50 thousand debt is extremely daunting. Many people view borrowing money as a burden, which holds them back from wanting to take out student loans to go to college.
More College Graduates Could Help Boost the Economy
Student loan debts are sure to be a hot topic in the upcoming 2012 presidential debate. Unless the government steps in to help pay for college education, more and more people are going to have to give up their dreams of a higher education. Individuals should not have to give up financial security just to earn a college degree. If more people are obtaining college degrees, that increases the number of people who are likely to have higher paying jobs. According to News Hour Extra: Research shows that college graduates earn, on average, $20,000 a year more than those who only have a high school diploma. College graduates also tend to get higher quality jobs with benefits and have the chance to earn advanced degrees, which offer even greater earning potential. (Cost of College Affecting Application and Acceptance Decisions, 2011, p. 2)
This fact could boost America’s economy and really help the recession. Perhaps the job market will get better and it will be easier to recuperate after the thousands of dollars spent on one’s degree. Or maybe the recession will end and funding for education will be restored. But as prices of virtually everything increase, that of a college education may continue to increase as well. Unfortunately, for now it seems that students in the United States will have to wait for a solution – unless they themselves try something drastic to alter this unfair system.
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