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College Prices and the Opportunity Gap

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    The price of college has skyrocketed by 163% in the last 30 years (Martin). Student loans have overtaken the public, becoming bigger than even the national consumer credit card debt. Poor communities, typically those of color, have stayed poor do to the lack of funding for their schools. We are a nation of chaos. But how did things become this way? Why has our nation, once the pinnacle of international intelligence, turned to rubble? The answer lies within the details. Our nation, once invested in higher education, has stalled. State funding for higher education has halted (Sanchez). While other countries marched into a no-fee college system, vastly displacing their own student loan crisises, we were spending $914,000 on a study finding whom american citizens preferred in the highly successful twilight series (reader’s digest). While other countries were educating their students we were spending $450,000 finding out if dinosaurs sang like birds (reader’s digest). Our current, broken educational system is the result of years of neglect and decay, leading our country, at least partially, into the ruin we are in today. The only way to advance our country is to educate ourselves, and the only way we can give ourselves a better education is by investing more money in our school systems. If not in our higher education, in our present-day public education system.

    College prices in America have not always been as expensive as they are today. In the past, college prices have been reasonable. The average cost of a year’s tuition at a 4-year public school in 1987 was $3,190 (with numbers adjusted to 2017 inflation) (Martin). Compared to today’s average year’s tuition at a 4-year public school, there is a difference by $6,780. One could buy a used car with that kind of money. One of the problems with this discrepancy is that older graduates may not accurately assume the difficulty modern day student have with receiving a college education, and paying for one. Although many may overlook this problem, this lack of empathy extends well past grandparents complaining about the lazy youth. Policymakers that have graduated into a more productive economy with a cheaper college degree may not recognize the privilege they had, therefore not acknowledging the need for policy change on student loans and college prices. Moreover, modern students are not only targeted by exponential tuition, but also by unsympathetic policies regarding tuition. Furthermore, in the past college was not the necessity it is today, and this sudden increase in demand has skyrocketed college prices. Older college graduates utilized an education system that was cheap, and aided their careers. Today, college graduates utilize an education system that is an exorbitant amount of money, and is vital to the job market. Without a college degree today, one is hard-pressed to find good work. My own life is a reflection of this truth. Both of my parents do not hold a college degree, choosing to care for ailing parents in their prime. And when my parents were laid off in wake of the 2008 financial crisis, it took my mother months to find another job that would hire her. Even then, she lied about having a degree and was quickly found out, yet miraculously still hired. My father has still not found another career. A degree is necessary for growth and survival in our modern day economy. Consequently, colleges may racket up the price to receive more money, since most young adults are forced into a higher education. We are at the whims of those who dictate the price of education.

    Today, our colleges are not only unachievably expensive, but they are impossibly hard to get into for those in poor areas. We are a nation in need of a revolution. Our social climate loosely reflects the discrpancies of those that sowed the seeds for the French Revoloution. Although we do not have royalty, we do have a lucky aristocracy that flourishes at the expense of others. The 9.9% get richer as the poor get poorer (stewart). Although many might expect the 1% to be the root of every problem, often it is the 9.9% who take and recieve the most. And this is due to their schools, at least in part. The 9.9% “are the people of good family, good health, good schools, good neighborhoods, and good jobs”. They set their children up for success by raising them in an area with good schools, due to high property values. This sets up a cycle of wealth. Wealth leads to good schools, which leads to good colleges, which leads to good jobs, which leads to more wealth. We should be worried about this problem because birth should not dictate success in the United States of America. For instance, a writer for Cosmopolitan finds being in the middle-class after years of hard work her version of the american dream (Pellot). Growing up in poverty, she had to make “the choice to fight for [her] life, and [become] exceptional because it was the only way” (pellot). She read every book she could, tried her best at school, and even opened her own busniess to push herself through NYU. Unlike many born into wealth, she did not have access to good schools, money for college, tutors, free time, or most things people in the 9.9% would take for granted. This is why we need to close the gap. So boys and girls like Emerald don’t have to work three times as hard as the next guy just to reach the success that they were given at birth. If more schools were equal in quality, those with natural talents would be nurtured and would become valuable members of society instead of being relegated to poverty and suffering through a broken system. If people really want less citizens on welfare, the first step should be to improve our public education system.

    For some lucky students, born into a life of poverty, college graduation may seem like the end of their troubles. However, student loans have a way of making people feel, well, trapped. The student loan crisis, exacberated by the 2008 recession, is suffocating graduates all over the country. In fact, this isn’t just the millenial whinings you hear about on the news. Millenials were nearly conned when they applied for student loans through Sallie Mae, up until 2010 when the Obama administration cut out some of Sallie Mae’s mishaps (Baker). Sallie Mae was privatized by the government in the 1990’s, changing the focus of the loans from helping students to making lenders rich (westervelt). This set off a vicious cycle of financial abuse. Students that would have otherwise chosen other loan methods were conned into Sallie Mae’s agenda through people they believed to be their college representatives (Glater). Sallie Mae paid these people to steer students into asking Sallie Mae for loans instead of other lenders. Unfortunately, many of these borrowers bit off more than they could chew. Consequently, many millenials, who cannot pay their federal student loan dues can have their tax refunds taken, and even their wages garnished up to 15% (wasisk). Those who defaulted on their student loans totaled 1.1 million last year (Anderson). No one can deny that we are setting up students, particularly those of poor areas with little means, up for failure. Yet policymakers still allow this monstrosity to continue. In 2010 the Obama administration thankfully rolled back some of Sallie Mae’s more vulgar sins, but we still have more work to do (Baker). This toxic combination of the oppurtunity gap and the student loan crisis is catastrophic for our country.

    The impacts of the of both the Oppurtunity Gap and the student loan crisis are far reaching.

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    College Prices and the Opportunity Gap. (2021, Oct 20). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/college-prices-and-the-opportunity-gap/

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