The cost of tuition for higher education is quickly rising. Over half of college freshmen show some concern with how to pay for college. This is the highest this number has been since 1971 (Marill and O’Leary 64-66, 93). The amount of college graduate debt has been rapidly increasing also. With limited jobs available because of the high unemployment rate, college graduates find themselves staying in debt even longer. However, grants and financial aid are available to students, but students still struggle to pay for their college tuition.
Although some claim that higher education is still affordable, higher education costs too much because the state’s revenue is low, the unemployment rate is high, and graduates cannot pay off loans. One reason that higher education is not affordable is that the states’ revenue is low and the states are in debt. Because of their decreasing tax revenues, many states need to make cuts in their budget. As a result of this, tuition is rising and other changes are happening throughout colleges.
Some of these changes include: higher student to faculty ratios, less but larger classes, and fewer on-campus jobs that normally support students (Hulsey 24). These changes affect students and impact their view and decisions of certain colleges. The tuition rate has also “been rising at about 6 percent a year for most of the past ten years” (Marill and O’Leary 64-66, 93). This percent inevitably makes it harder for students to find an affordable college. High tuition prices also keep some people from attending their dream college.
All of these changes have an effect on the students and the rising tuition prices. Another result of the different states being in debt is that they are giving colleges less financial help. “Prior to the 1980s, most public universities received upwards of 70 percent of their operating budgets from their respective states. Now most receive less than 50 percent” (Hulsey 24). Some schools, such as the University of Michigan, receive less than seven percent (Hulsey 24). These numbers hit some schools extremely hard.
According to Hulsey in his article about the cost of education: State contributions to the 2009-10 operating budget declined by $189 million at UCLA, $109 million at University of Florida, $99 million at University of Washington, and $63 million at Louisiana State University (LSU), according to a Nov. 1, 2009, New York Times article by Paul Fain. The percentage decline was equally significant, ranging from 33 percent at UCLA to 27 percent at LSU. (24) As a result of this, states receive pressure to make up for this and must raise tuition.
Grant donors are also becoming less generous in their contributions to students as well. This makes affording college even harder for students. Not only do the states’ low revenues cause affordability problems, but high unemployment rates contribute as well. As of December 2009, the nation’s unemployment rate was at ten percent (Boskin 22-27). The unemployment rate for people ages twenty to twenty-four is fifteen percent (Dickler). These numbers are still significantly high. This makes finding jobs extremely difficult for college students.
Since the nation’s overall unemployment rate is high, students find themselves competing with everyone for jobs. This becomes very difficult for them. Without jobs, affording college is even more difficult and the process of paying off student loans takes even longer. With limited jobs available, young adults are finding moving back home inevitable. Last May, “85% of college seniors planned to move back home” after graduation (Dickler). This statistic seems unreasonable yet unavoidable to most people. However, this percent has increased from sixty-seven percent in 2006 (Dickler).
Graduates feel they have no choice but to move back home since there are limited jobs available to them. Moving back home gives graduates a chance to save up more money before moving out on their own again. However, most graduates are staying at home for around a year or even more now (Dickler). This puts moving out into the “real world” off even longer, but helps students save up more money so they can survive on their own more easily. Along with the unemployment rate being high, students are not able to pay off their loans right away.
Nearly two-thirds of college students graduate with at least some debt (Hulsey 24). Graduating with debt causes many worries and concerns for students. “The average student-loan debt for college seniors was $23,000 in 2008, up from $18,650 in 2004”, increasing about six percent a year (Hulsey 24). These numbers hit students hard when it comes time to pay for the loans. Besides paying off student loans that cover tuition, students must find money for hidden costs such as books and supplies, which “will likely cost more than $850 a year” (Mannes 108).
All these cost together make affording college hard for students. More and more students are taking out loans to help pay for college. “The number of first-year students taking out loans (53. 3 percent) is greater than it has been since 1971”. (Marill and O’Leary 64-66, 93). This percentage should cause many concerns for people. The number of students with unemployed parents has also increased, which has caused more students to take out more loans without the help of their parents (Marill and O’Leary 64-66, 93). Students often have a hard time paying for these loans.
One-third of students feel that the debt burden is unmanageable (Long 27-38). Some salaries of jobs are putting students in unmanageable debt to not pay off their loans. Graduates entering teaching have a twenty-three percent chance of having an unmanageable debt burden. Other fields, such as social work, also challenge students with large debt burdens and problems paying them off due to low salaries of their jobs (Long 27-38). This places large amounts of stress on students and also has a chance at affecting the choice of one’s major.
Loans also influence chosen are of study, college, buying of a house, and other long-term life decisions (Long 27-38). All of this contributes to students not being able to afford higher education. On the other hand, some people say that higher education is still affordable. A reason for this is that government grants, loans, and other forms of financial aid are available to most students. Student loans can also be forgiven based on certain jobs fresh college graduates enter. However, many students need loans to help them pay for their higher education.
Also, loans become hard to pay off and nearly “two-thirds of students graduate with some student-loan debt” (Hulsey 24). Loans also place burdens and stress on many students since the low income and lack of jobs of some make it hard for students to pay off their debt. Some students are also denied for grants and aid and this makes affording college harder. In conclusion, higher education is not affordable for all students. One reason for this is that the states’ revenue is low. High unemployment rates also contribute to this problem.
Another cause of this is the inability of students to pay off their loans. Nearly two-thirds of college freshmen feel concerned about how to pay for college and almost the same amount graduate with debt (Marill and O’Leary 64-66, 93). Since high tuition and loans drastically affect a person, many students feel forced to take this into consideration when making plans for their future. Many plans and dreams that high school students have become altered when reality hits them about the cost of continuing their education. Therefore, students just cannot afford higher education.
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