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Our nation’s financial situation

By:  Hope Wittschen

Americans are lucky to live in their country for many reasons; one of which is free education. Whether or not many of us realize it, other places aren’t as fortunate to be able to provide their families with the option of sending their children to public school for free once they reach the age to do so. In many countries, education is costly from the very beginning, and some families even have to limit the number of children just to afford to send the one or two that they have already to school.

Paying for college is a major problem for this generation. Photo courtesy of Austin Hazen

 

Americans are lucky, and as a citizen who considers myself grateful for all the freedoms I was born into, I’m in no way complaining about not having enough of them. However, everyone knows that education isn’t always free. Unless you’re able to get a full ride scholarship, college is expensive, and the progression of teenagers to young adults isn’t exactly sufficient. In order to get a job that provides an income enough to pay for the cost of living, enough money to barely get by, you have to go to college, no question. College isn’t an option anymore.

So it’s decided that everyone who’s going to be anyone from this generation is going to college. But going to college isn’t the problem, that’s all well and good. The problem is the slew of events following college that are inevitable and trap students in a guaranteed timeline of financial problems. A student loan almost always has to be taken out, which after school, leaves you with having to pay it back. So left up to fate, you’re hoping that once you graduate from college, you’ll quickly find a job, not to begin to use the education you just earned to improve your standard of living and start building the foundation for your future life, but to pay back all of the money you borrowed to get you there.

My sister is in her mid-thirties, and she’s still paying back her student loan to this day. I don’t know about anyone else, but I know I don’t want to be in that position 15 years from now. But there is really no other option; not going to college is only a career path for pop stars, and even then hip-hop artists Dr. Dre, Ludacris, lil Wayne, Sean Combs, and David Banner, and even reality TV star Flavor-Flav went to college. But it’s not like none of them had the cash to do so.

College isn’t ever going to get any cheaper, and though the price of tuition isn’t a concern for athletes and those students lucky enough to be offered a scholarship, many teenagers are not only intimidated, but completely beside themselves as to how to approach such a major decision, and truly their first financial endeavor. There is no clear solution to this problem, but why are we setting up our youth for a 5 + year long loan payment, from money they don’t even have yet? Why isn’t there a better system? Why have we not yet implemented a better plan? Those going into the workforce are the primary consumers, and with stimulating the economy being such a primary focus for the Obama administration, why would he leave the primary consumers without any money left over to spend on the goods being produced across the nation?

If the government is being left to pay for these students through any kind of financial aid after college, why not insert the money spent elsewhere in this system, preferably somewhere that leaves the younger working class with the ability to support itself? 

When looking into this situation, I learned that the average undergraduate college student graduates with more than $20,000 in debt. Those students, who graduate from a professional or two-year vocational program, are left with not as hefty a payment, but still a whopping $10,000. For 20-24 year olds that’s a lot of money; in fact, for anyone that’s a lot of money. The hardest hit is on those who are studying medicine or law who could end up with as much as $100,000 in loan debt. Granted, both of those fields in the work force earn a substantial amount of more money more than many other occupations that help with paying back such a large amount of money. Still, years are spent making money, specifically just to pay back those student loans.  

One website I visited looking for answers posed an interesting suggestion, that if American’s weren’t faced with such a huge amount of debt right out of college, that we may be a more educated society? If that’s true, and as a whole our country could be a more educated nation just by lowering the cost of college, than something certainly must be done about the cost of a good education. Living freely is definitely becoming a lot harder today than it used to be.

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