Dear future president,
First of all, congratulations on being elected as the next president of the United States. Though I was unable to vote in this election, I believe it is still important for teenagers like myself to voice opinions on today’s issues as we will be the next generation to lead the United States of America. Today, one of the greatest issues in our nation is, in my opinion, the higher education system, specifically pertaining to college and its high tuition rates.
As a 15 year old high school student, I have been lucky to attend a rigorous school where students are empowered by education. A good education is the foundation for success: socially, empathetically, and economically. A good education gives one the confidence and power to be leaders, voicing opinions in an educated way. With the growing requirement of a college degree, a good education allows people to provide for themselves, their families, and the United States economy. However, many debate over whether or not the cost of lowering tuition is worth it, and where to gather necessary funding to do so.
Over the years, the cost of college in the United States has skyrocketed, soaring nearly six percent above the inflation rate and pushing families’ ability and willingness to pay for college tuition to the utmost. According to OnlineCollege.org, 90 percent of students with parents who are not concerned about the cost of college tuition are applied to college, while only 66 percent of students with parents who are concerned about the cost of college tuition are applied to college. This inequality in access to higher education prohibits lower income students from employment in higher paying jobs to enter the middle class. Additionally, for students from low-income families, lower tuition rates would greatly affect their ambition in middle and high school. “If a sixth grader thinks he doesn’t have any chance of going to college because his family cannot afford it, that’s discouraging”, Miller, a White House policy staffer said. “You may conclude there’s no point in trying.”
To counter the rapidly increasing college tuition rates, many students take out student loans. Today, with the total level of student debt amounting to greater than $1.2 trillion according to CNBC, many are left wondering why tuition continues to rise, and if it will ever stop. Increasing debt leads some to drop out of college, leaving drop-outs with large amounts of debt, but no degree, causing them to take even longer paying off their debts. After college, graduates’ debts are a substantial burden on their lives. In some fields, students’ debt is greater than the starting salary, discouraging many from starting a career in fields they find most interesting. According to OnlineCollege.org, 42 percent of college graduates beginning their careers must live paycheck to paycheck; consequently delaying marriage, having children, getting medical and dental care, and buying a home. A study conducted in 2011 by OnlineCollege.org found that 85 percent of college graduates were forced to move back home. Additionally, the percentage of home-owning 25-44 year olds declined from 61 percent in 1960 to 57 percent in 2011. Overall, the consequences of graduates’ debt are monumental burdens on their post-college success.
Though the issues concerning the cost of college tuition have been recognized, the solution is still unclear. There is great debate over whether the cost of lowering college costs would be worth it, and where the funding to do so would come from. Andrew P. Kelly, a resident scholar and director of the Center of Higher Education Reform at the American Enterprise Institute, refers to free public college as “a flawed policy”. “A national push for tuition-free college would strain public budgets even further, leading to shortages rather than increased access”, Kelly argues. “Tuition-free colleges won’t have the resources to serve additional students without compromising the quality of their offerings.” In order to serve a greater pool of students, the quality of education could be negatively affected. Kelly also argues that tuition prices are not always the sole barrier between students and success; other factors such as low educational standards and college readiness are obstacles as well. Additionally, the free public slots intended for low-income students who need them most could be taken by middle and upper class students.
However, decreasing the cost of college would allow many students to reach success in high paying jobs, empower them as citizens of the United States, and contribute to the economy of our nation by lowering unemployment rates. Though lowering the cost of college tuition could be costly, it is a worthy investment in the success of our country.
Thank you for your consideration,