Dear future President,
College. The seven letter word that almost every high school senior dreads hearing at family functions. Redundant questions of “what colleges are you applying to?” and “what do you want to do with your life?” are some of the toughest to answer. Attending college is considered a societal norm. Those who aspire to obtain a successful career rely on universities to get them there. Colleges pride themselves on having high job placement percentages, delicious cafeteria food, and beautiful dormitories, but they seem to disregard the question on all of our minds, tuition cost. According to the College Board, the average cost of tuition per year is about 32 thousand dollars, which is leaving out additional fees of roam, board, and books. The American Dream is all about opportunities however millions of Americans are being restricted of this opportunity because of the hefty price tag. Once you are in office, you must devise a concrete plan to lower these outrageous tuition costs.
As most of my friends and I are currently working through the college application process the reality sets in for us and our parents. Gathered around the dinner table with a steaming home cooked meal never seems to eliminate the tension that fills the air. The beginning of difficult conversations arise. Student’s “dream schools”, places they’ve shed blood, sweat, and tears to be admitted to are no longer an option due to cost. The burden of college payments causes an unprecedented number of families to suffer through anxiety and stress. Parents worry that they simply can’t afford to pay for their kids education, causing vast tension. In result, teenagers are left to fend for themselves. In fact, about 80 percent of students are shouldering some or all of their college costs. Although it is encouraging to know students are taking on these responsibilities, college should not be this much of a financial burden to families.
Higher education should be an opportunity for all people however, with the rise in tuition it is simply not feasible for the majority. According to the Department of Numbers, the average income in the United States as of 2016 was reported to be about 55 thousand dollars. The ratio of income and college pricing is not equal. Studies have clearly shown that the steep financial obligations for university have hindered those especially in low income households. The college enrollment of students in low income households dropped from 55.9% in 2008 down to 45.5% in 2013.
To combat the college enrollment percentages from further declining there needs to be significant change. More communication to students about scholarship opportunities will benefit those who need financial assistance. Many school counselors don’t capitalize on these offers and leave students to fend for themselves, often times figuring it out when the deadlines have already passed. In addition, colleges should offer more work study options for students. A work study is a form of employment that allows students to make hourly salary towards paying for tuition. This typically involves an on campus job at libraries, dining halls, or the school's gym just to name a few. Because the hours revolve solely on the student’s class schedule, a work study is easier than a regular off-campus part-time job.
While colleges try their best to help those who can’t afford tuition costs, it is simply not enough. Our future President must set forth national regulations and criteria for colleges to follow as a means to aid those who can’t comfortably pay for schooling. Everyone who wants to attend college, and obtain a degree should be able to do so without being discouraged of financial obligations. It is time for the United States to make college an affordable opportunity.