Dear Future President,
College lies somewhere between a privilege and a necessity in America today. While it is necessary to keep college a privately owned institution in order to have competitive learning environments to forward innovation, it’s also important to make higher education a feasible goal for everyone, regardless of class. There are a variety of scholarships available to students from all backgrounds, and, of course, there are always student loans and organizations like FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid), but many students don’t feel that the advantages of a degree outweigh the burden of paying off student loans for decades afterward. College does need to be paid for so that it will have the funding and competitive atmosphere to provide the best possible learning experiences to students, but the current rate of inflation the US is experiencing is deterring many bright young people from attending schools that could train them to better our world.
While we often think only of those from lower economic classes having trouble affording higher education, many middle-class families have trouble as well. I am ranked number one in my class, have a perfect grade point average, and have been taking the hardest classes available since starting high school. I even transferred schools my sophomore year so that I’d be able to take more rigorous courses that my former school didn’t offer, but I likely won’t be able to attend the college I’d hope to because I don’t qualify for financial aid. My family falls into a financial bracket just above the maximum for many financial aid programs, and my parents won’t be able to pay for all three of their children to attend the best schools out of pocket. This is an issue for many families throughout America-students settling for less than they deserve for the sake of avoiding financial burden. According to an article in Business Insider, “In 1980, the average cost of tuition, room and board, and fees at a four-year postsecondary institution was $9,438, according to the Department of Education. That number has since climbed to $23,872.” While it’s important to increase the quality and competition within the education system, the increase is creating a clear and unfair advantage for those born into money. This presents college as a luxury to many students, as opposed to a necessity as it’s seen by a majority of employers.
College needs to stay a privately owned institution in order to keep the best professors and programs working in our schools, but we need to find a way to reduce the financial burdens experienced by students. If we work to create better financial aid programs and decrease the absurd tuition costs that have been rapidly increasing for decades, we can present everyone with equal opportunities, regardless of their economic status.