Dear Next President,
I am a junior in high school and I hope to attend college. However, the increasing cost of college tuition and materials may deter myself and others from attending college. The rise of college tuition and debt is rapidly escalating and is becoming a huge issue. In 2 years, when I graduate from high school and prepare to attend college, the estimated cost of four years of state college will soar to a staggering $334,000 (Onink).
Despite the huge cost of college, many students still manage to graduate through scholarships and jobs. However, the majority of college students graduate with at least some debt. Scholarships are geared towards ‘gifted’ and ‘athletic’ students. Most students do not qualify for a significant amount in scholarships or grants. Many college attendees and their parents take out loans. These loans, over the years, add up, gather interest, and turn into big debt. Countless parents are already trying to pay off their mortgages and are now burdened with their children’s crushing college tuition or debt. It’s not a surprise that many individuals skip college and try to find work immediately after high school in order to support themselves and their families. Those who cannot afford college are at a huge disadvantage compared to their counterpart who can. Those who attend college attain more skills and have a wider range of jobs to choose from after they graduate. It is up to us as a nation to give every individual the equal opportunity to attend college and further their education without worrying about the financial consequences.
Another aspect we need to consider is the fact that many college students drop out. Those who do not end up receiving an expensive degree have to pay the debt for trying anyway. 45% of college dropouts that have college debt said that college was not worth the cost (Tompor). Many students leave college because they did not realize the huge financial responsibility or did not have a realistic way to financially support themselves. Many people argue that getting a job after college will immediately offset a graduate's debt. This is not the case. The average college graduate will make about $50,000 a year (Poppick). Individuals have to take into consideration that they have to pay bills and other necessities each month when they move out of their dorms or their parent’s house. Even the monthly payment of the outstanding loans with interest can be cumbersome to lot of fresh graduates. Even though some graduates are making $50,000, that still may not be enough to quickly repay their debt.
Many individuals believe that the cost of college is reasonable. Individuals who have a bachelor’s degree earn almost twice as much as their high school diploma counterparts. Also, attaining a college degree can open up a lot of opportunities that would not be available without one. The salaries of college professors have also increased. Many believe that prestigious, educational institution, such as Harvard or Yale, is worth the cost due to their highly accredited statuses. These logics are not correct. Some jobs attained without a college degree pay more than those requiring one, such as elevator repairers whose median wage in 2012 was $76,650 (Gillet). Also, work experience and networking can get individuals opportunities that college alone may not have been able to provide.
The nation’s future depends on our future doctors, engineers, teachers, historians, and so many other college educated professionals. Our future needs affordable college education in order to serve and advance our vast economy. The unemployment rate of those with only a high school diploma was more than double than those with at least a bachelor’s degree in 2013 (Weisenthal). Many individuals want to attend college, but cannot due to financial struggles. I sincerely ask that you make college tuition and debt a priority in your presidential agenda and work to make a college degree available to everyone regardless of income, race, and gender. My future, and the future of America, depends on it.