OPINION: Increasing education costs are destroying college

I am a junior at Mason studying government and international politics.

I pay for my own food, my own housing and my own tuition. I have to pay, out-of-pocket after financial aid, $2,446 this semester for my education (not including food and my cell phone bill each month).

While this may not seem like a lot, the burden of working and class combined is definitely stressful to say the least.

I am unable to obtain most private loans because I have no one to cosign with me and because I only recently acquired a credit card, I do not have enough credit history to obtain one on my own.

I also apply to a plethora of scholarships every year. If I did not have to work these jobs to stay in school and obtain my degree, my test scores would undoubtedly be higher.

My grade point average would be higher. I would be able to put more of a focus on my schoolwork because I would simply have more time.

The point of this article is not to garner sympathy. It is to point out that the cost of an education is an unfair burden on a significant portion of Americans.

My own balance of finances and education can be seen in many other college students’ lives, even here at Mason.

Many women turn to stripping or escorting to pay for their college education.

People are desperate not only to pay for college in the first place but to pay off student loans after they’ve graduated.

A Morgan State University architecture major stated this about her choice of becoming an escort: “It’s not something I’m happy to be doing, but when you’re applying for all these jobs and noone is calling back, it’s like, ‘Well I have to do what I have to do.’”

Will Arenas, a 2009 graduate of Virginia State University, says that working while in college can ostracize students from the college experience:

“You miss all the social aspects and memories of college while you’re working. You don’t have time to make friends, and that’s if you can even find a job, because coming in, you don’t have a lot of experience. It can be frustrating.”

The think-tank American Enterprise Institute reported that college textbook prices are 812% higher than they were three decades ago.

There has been an increase of 559% in tuition and fees over the same period of time.

There also seems to be a de-emphasis put on college education, especially when compared to other civilized countries.

In 2012, Rick Santorum said to a crowd, “President Obama wants everybody in America to go to college. What a snob!”

How does that make him a snob, though? I am neither supporting nor opposing President Obama, but why would it be snobbish to want every American to be able to go to college?

I am also not saying that college is for everyone, but it should be for everyone who wants to go. Denmark, France, Italy, and Spain all offer free or almost free post-secondary education.

Even in Canada, education costs on average are less than half of what they are in America.

The average collegiate burden for graduates is $28,000 in debt.

When credit card debt is included, it is around $35,000 in debt. California is one of at least ten states which now spends more on their prisons than on education.

It takes an average of nineteen years to pay off a bachelor degree. There is over $1 trillion in student debt, 60% of which is owed by people over thirty.

College debt can literally cost you for your entire young adult life.

Student loan rates were set to double on July 1, 2013 from 3.4% to 6.8%. Back in May of this year, Elizabeth

Warren, a Massachusetts federal senator, claimed that student loan interest rates should be the same rates that affect the banks (0.75%).

If the banks are allowed to borrow at this rate, why shouldn’t students also be allowed to do that? Elizabeth Warren stated the following: “The federal government is going to charge interest rates nine times higher than the rate they charge the biggest banks. The same banks that destroyed millions of jobs and nearly broke the economy. That isn’t right. And that’s why I’m introducing legislation today to give students the same deal that we give the banks.”

The government is set to make $51 billion from student loans this year.

That’s more than the most profitable company in the world, Exxon-Mobil, who made $44.9 billion in 2012. This evolving discussion involves every college student.

Not all of us can simply borrow money from our parents.

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