Tech, Now + Beyond

Thanks to expensive education, college students like myself are constantly struggling

College tuition has skyrocketed, yet we're being blamed for the financial mess we're stuck in.

Student loans pretty much suck.

They are beneficial because they allow you to afford things like tuition and rent without having to work every second you’re not in class. But in the long run, they are terrible; because though that money feels free now, one day you’ll have to pay it back, and it’s going to be even more expensive when you do. What makes loans even worse is the fact that they have become practically necessary to receive an education.

The student debt crisis as a whole has reached crazy numbers, coming in at over $1.3 million owed by students across the country. I’ve heard people claim that to save money you should just avoid college, or go to trade school, and to be completely honest, those claims infuriate me. Though those paths may work great for others, they’re not the ultimate path for anyone who wants a profitable future that’s debt-free.

I’m not going to write an article about my own experience with student debt. I actually have less of it in comparison to a lot of people my age, simply due to my father’s career, and I feel that I can’t accurately talk for everyone who is struggling with student loans. I also will not be suggesting ways to pay for college that doesn’t require loans. Though there are great ideas in those sorts of conversations, I know that there comes a point where student loans are pretty much necessary to have.

What I want to address here is the face of a country that has created this cycle of debt and destruction (I’m proud of myself for that term) and to basically show that having student debt is not a bad thing or your own fault, it’s the fault of our society.

In 1992, college students paid about $12,434 in debt. In 2012 this had grown to nearly $27,000. 

It’s even higher now.

Why are college prices rising so quickly, leaving students to pay more and more as the years go on? In a world that pushes college at a young age, this isn’t too surprising. I have watched an older person tell a group of elementary students that college is the ultimate goal before. From the moment I entered high school, I was told that I had to go to college and a good one at that. Though I am glad that I did choose to go to a four-year university, this emphasis on trying to get more and more people to go to college can play a large role in increasing prices. College has become more popular, student body populations have risen, schools have become more selective, and costs have grown too. The culture of the United States has become so intensely focused on college that it’s driven the prices up, yet no one is trying to help the students being affected by this price rise.

You see many baby boomers and other prior generations constantly blaming millennials for being in debt. They talk about how they could buy a house by such and such age, and how they worked their way through paying for college, and they act like we are lazy because we can’t afford the same that they could. In the 70’s, students could work a full-time job over the summer and easily pay for their tuition for the semester, simply because though minimum wage was lower, college prices were also significantly lower. Nowadays, it’s impossible to do that. Back then, it cost on average about $700 dollars to pay for a full years tuition at a public university.

Today, it costs almost $10,000 on average for an instate student at a public university. That alone explains how nearly impossible it is to afford a college education without student loans.

Plus, even though at one point minimum wage was about $2 an hour, which is lower than the $10 an hour I make at my school job, if you do the math an entire summer’s worth of 40 hour work weeks would equal $960, more than tuition, while now an entire summer’s worth of 40 hour work weeks comes to about $4,800, which isn’t even half of the tuition of an average in-state student.

College students like myself are struggling. We can’t afford the education that has been instilled in our brains, and we are blamed for choosing that path or for not having enough money to do so without going into debt. I hope I was able to give a small look into the crazy world that is the student debt crisis. I don’t have any facts or figures about how to fix it, however, but I do know one thing.

It’s on our generation to make the world a better place for future ones.

Let’s lower the cost of education, and make it so that our children and grandchildren will be in less debt than we are in. Let’s also not judge them if they can’t afford things, the way older generations judge us. Let’s be considerate and caring and let’s learn from past mistakes and take it on us to end the student debt crisis, whatever way that may happen.