By Brynn Jones
Edited by Linda Ruble
College for All?
At first blush, the idea of free or affordable college may sound like a crazy, outlandish idea. Chances are, to those who have grown up in the United States, the idea of “saving up for college” has been a theme that reoccurs throughout their adolescent lives. Attending a college/university has become a rite of passage. It’s required for many jobs, and due to the signaling wage theory, attending is a good idea, if a person wants to earn more. However, saving up for this socially imbedded goal has been a scary thought for most–and for good reason, too. According to The Huffington Post, college tuition has gone up a whopping 1,120% in the last 30 years. So, for the older generations who want to say, “Back in my day, I could afford college on minimum wage,” they really did live in a different economic time. According to Student Loan Hero, the cost of college has gone up so high, the average student debt coming out of college is $37,172. Educational debt is growing while high-income jobs are difficult to come by. How are students supposed to realistically pay off all of that debt? The cost of college in the U.S. has led students to crippling debt, without many options to find a way out.
Can this be done?
When it comes to spending money, the federal government is under nearly constant scrutiny. Many people criticize the government for the way in which it spends money, both what it spends money on and how much is allocated to specific causes. Education is a top priority among many U.S citizens, so why did the U.S government suddenly stop caring about post-secondary education? It already funds many public K-12 schools in every state, and it should continue to fund students all the way through bachelor’s programs. How can this be done? Senator Bernard Sanders has many ideas on how to go about such change, including prohibiting the federal government from profiting from student loan debt, and cutting student loan interest rates. To see more of his plan, visit: https://berniesanders.com/issues/its-time-to-make-college-tuition-free-and-debt-free/. His plans support a good indication it can be done and that this would result in an influx of qualified personnel to the workforce.
How can this be accomplished?
Obviously, free college isn’t actually free, and due to the population of the United States, paying for many people to go to college would be costly. The most-effective solution would be to tax those in upper tax brackets at a proportional percentage, so they pay their “fair share” and then, allocate those funds to pay for college. Those who are considered in the “upper tax brackets” should pay some form of fees to the colleges/universities for an extra boost of funds. These fees wouldn’t be anything large or leave the students in debt, and it would be a constructive step in ensuring that the colleges/universities wouldn’t suffer.
The United States should follow other countries such as Germany, Finland, and Denmark in the pursuit of accessible post-secondary degrees for all. Doing so would create more well-informed individuals, qualified for the workforce. College is a necessary evil and should be affordable for everyone who seeks an education, especially for those in a first-world country such as the United States.