Ever since I can remember, going away to college has been my dream. I never wanted to stay in state, I wanted to explore somewhere new. However, now that I’ve actually begun the college application process I’ve realized that this is actually a very difficult goal to achieve. I’ve always been a top notch student, with good test scores and plenty of extra-curriculars, and I assumed that this would make college easily affordable. I couldn’t have been more wrong. My family is middle class, and we are not poor by any stretch of the imagination. However, every school that I’ve applied to is far beyond my family’s budget. I’ve realized that this is an issue for anyone whose parents are not wealthy, regardless of merit. Most schools have scholarship caps, so even receiving the highest possible scholarship doesn’t guarantee affordability. So far I’ve been accepted into six schools, and at the moment none of them are in budget.
One of the biggest problems with paying for college is government estimated family contribution. Every student who is pursuing financial aid fills out a form which allows the government to determine how much a family can contribute to a child’s education based on income and expenses. Schools then base how much money they give out on this form. However, in my case and in many cases, this information is incorrect. The government estimated my family can pay more than three times what they can actually afford. This means that I am not eligible for need-based aid scholarships. Unfortunately this would mean if I attended any of the schools on my list I would be taking out massive amounts of money in student loans. Attending prestigious private colleges has become extremely difficult for anyone who is not wealthy.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the average household income was 73,298 dollars in 2014, the last available year for data. While this seems like enough to pay for education upward trends in college price have risen faster than income. College Board estimates that the average cost of public schooling adds up to 20,770 dollars a year, while private college costs a whopping 46,950 dollars on average. For a family with multiple kids, or even just one, these costs are not realistic. Its obvious why college debt has become such a problem in our society, because any student living with non-wealthy parents will have to take out huge loans to attend school out of state, or even in state. The rapid increase in college costs far outpaces increases in income. US News tells us that since 2007-2008, college costs have increased by almost 50% (49.3%), while average income has risen by less than ten percent since that year. High-end education is becoming a luxury that many cannot afford, regardless of whether or not they are accepted into top-tier schools.
Solving the problem of college cost and debt is a difficult issue. Student debt surpases credit card debt, auto loans, and even home equity loans, totalling at 1.3 trillion dollars, an insane amount. One solution offered by The New York Times is to use the same sort of system used in many European countries. In the US, most students are expected to pay off their loans within ten years, while in Europe, twenty-five years is common. There, loans payments start off small, and are slowly increased over a long span to give students time to develop a steady income. With this system, students aren’t afraid to take out large loans, because they know payments will not be overwhelming once they graduate. Another system that is effective is the one used in Australia, where students pay no payments on their loans until they reach a yearly income of 40,000 dollars a year. Ultimately there is no guaranteed solution to the issue of college, but it is definitely one of the biggest problems in our country, one that we all need to work together to solve.
College Woes by Logan is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.