Ensuring your indebted future
Since my freshman year of college nine years ago, every university I’ve stepped foot on has been “under construction.” With streets closed, detours made, and buildings built to even greater heights, trillions are being spent across the country on “improvements.”
This hyper-development has led to increased tuition and fees for everyday students, but amidst this “progress” sits an all-too-quiet darkness: $1.2 trillion in student loan debt.
The construction, administrator salaries, and student fees (i.e., recreational centers) have all contributed to greater debts. Simultaneously, reduced state-based funding for tuition has saddled students with ever-growing amounts.
Almost every state — despite emphasizing the importance of educations — have cut, cut, cut. They’ve reduced burdens on taxpayers at the cost of individual college students.
Without money, the gap widens
We’ve pushed students into this bind. We’ve enabled this disempowerment and devolution. Now, students must take out student loans or ask wealthy parents. If the latter doesn’t exist, few options remain.
A vacuum has resulted. Private companies and universities have aimed to remedy the gap with digital universities and massive open online courses (MOOCs). These serve increasing populations of students looking for access to education — wherever it can be found. But these “solutions” do not provide the strength and privilege in an in-person education.
Maybe Udacity and MOOCs are incredible inventions, but would we even consider these options if educations were afforded to more people? Communication and engagement with the material, other students, and professors is weaker online.
Sitting in a seat, asking questions, and being an engaged student in a classroom still wins out. While online options might provide help to many, most people don’t learn very well watching a screen for hours on end.
Should student debt be an individual responsibility?
In America, we tend to value individual freedom over social good. The costs are simple: we don’t have a universal health system, paid family leave, or guaranteed vacation days with all employers. In this case, freedom means individual debt, burden, and struggle.
We believe that K-12 years should be taxpayer funded, and then suddenly stop. College educations shift to individual responsibility, as if it’s an optional concept in today’s economy.
Perhaps we cannot make sweeping changes to all these social programs. But maybe we can continue to strengthen the value of education as a right?
Where college education is a right
Thankfully, there’s another way. Much of Europe already has debt-free college educations for their people. For them, K-12 is just the start if you care to pursue additional education.
For some countries, this philosophy of education goes beyond their native-born populace and artificial borders. The University of Ljubljana in Slovenia provides free education to both foreign and native students. Americans have even gone there to dodge the debt in the States.
Americans could provide affordable educations to the masses. I’m a believer in this philosophy. People deserve quality educations in the richest country in the world. And citizens (at very least) could greatly benefit from this true access.
Students wouldn’t be cash strapped upon graduation. They’d buy homes, cars, and support your job and mine.
Instead, they’re forced to pay banks near-endless amounts of interest for decades and have nothing to show for it.