College Education is Everyone’s Right

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I have the privilege of calling myself a college student. I am able to obtain a higher education, to one day achieve a career that will give me a stable income and future. Though the life of a college student may be overwhelming when trying to balance school, work, and a social life. Though I wouldn’t change it for the world, because I am fortunate enough to be able to have the choice of going to college, when many others don’t. College isn’t cheap, that isn’t a groundbreaking discovery, but because of the unaffordable cost, many aren’t even given the choice to continue their education. Many have to work multiple jobs just to afford to live on their own, with many college tuitions costing well over 5 digits, it is simply unattainable to do both. If college was free for everyone to pursue, it can completely revolutionize the quality of life for future generations to come.

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College is promoted to students at a very young age. As early as middle school, students are given plans to follow and to meet the expectations of college admissions. And there are students that follow through with the tedious guidelines for years, and do get accepted into great colleges. Though college admissions have some intense expectations, getting into the schools isn’t the toughest part of their journey to college. There are some extraordinary students that made the most out of their years while in middle and high school. And for their dedication to their scholastic achievements, they get awarded scholarships. You can imagine the genuine happiness on their face as they open a letter stating they were granted $1,000 towards their college education. Though that smile slowly fades as they realize that $1,000 that once seemed like a nice number, is miniature in comparison to the $25,000 total annually it is being deducted from. Despite how incredibly talented and dedicated these students are to their education, some still aren’t able to receive the higher education they deserve due to the unaffordability of college tuition.

Even considering the most deserving students, college has become a hump that many can’t afford to go over. Many colleges that were once free, or provided at a low cost, even with inflation to compare to today, it was nowhere near where tuitions stand currently.​ ​There has been a shift in regards to how colleges are perceived and run over time. Many colleges that were once free, such as Cooper Union in Manhattan, New York, have slowly started to change their rhetoric. Cooper Union’s founder, Peter Cooper, instilled the concept of college being “open and free to all”. Focusing on the learning and education of those who attended his school, and making profit a second thought. Though in a way to reinvent the school’s presence, there has been funds needed. Which puts their students at a loss, as their free tuition will be reaching heights of up to $20,000. This concept has been seen in almost every historic college, as the culture shifted in regards to what is seen as profitable. College has become a financial gold mine, especially in regards to private schools, to profit of their students that are willing to invest in their education. Though the sad reality is that students must live in years of debt to simply seek a higher education that will benefit them when entering the professional workforce. The worst part of this form of business in regards to college institutions is the obvious form of socio economic exclusion. Students from lower income communities simply can’t afford the “luxury” of a higher education, even with the help of student loans and scholarships. College has become a business, the quality of their education isn’t based on how much their tuition costs.

Comparatively, many other countries have little to no fees for their college educations, and hold greater standards than the American institutions. American colleges advertise luxury amenities and incredible facilities, but are luring students in for something that shouldn’t cost any student thousands of dollars. Especially when the sole purpose of a college should be to give students a fulfilling and knowledgeable experience, as well as a degree. College has simply become “a private good offered by private institutions.” Colleges are profiting off the back of students that are trying to give themselves a better life. It is within the Constitution of the United States of America that “it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish” any form of government that seem unfit. How these institutions are able to get away with ripping off millions of students doesn’t seem to comply to the terms of doing so in a way to “effect their Safety and Happiness”.

College has become an essential part of chasing the American Dream. To achieve this dream, a student must first be pursuing a professional career, and finish college. They will seek various forms of experience, internships and jobs to move out of their parent’s home at 24. Then they will presumably marry their long life spouse, have a couple of kids, and buy their first home all finished with a white picket fence. Unfortunately, this reality doesn’t seem very realistic anymore. What you will see is students living with their parents until their late 20’s, drowning in student debt, their significant other sharing the same experience, and this is all the sad reality after graduation. With the financial weight of student loans and drowning in debt, this domino effect delays every other part of their life. According to the New York Times, there is currently “45 million Americans carry 1.6 trillion in student debt”. It is unrealistic for middle to low income students to move out for years after receiving their degree, as they are still continuously trying to pay off their thousands in student debt. With this reality, it is almost impossible for students currently enrolled to not be living at home; unless they’re working multiple jobs, living paycheck to paycheck, and living with multiple rooms in a house that is not suitable for that many.With colleges being so expensive, students are stuck in a vicious cycle of having to work more to pay off their schooling, then not having enough time to truly work on their studies. There has been various jokes based around the idea of struggling college students,living off instant ramen noodles, finding any way to save a dollar here and there, but those jokes have slowly become a true part of a college student’s experience.

Many believe that free tuition and a college education is unrealistic. In regards to lack of funding, or the fear of raised taxes. Many hold the mentality of “why should I pay for someone else’s education?” Though the reality of the situation is, there will be little to no changes, as Americans are already paying taxes towards college education. In 2016, “​the federal government spent $91 billion on policies that subsidized college attendance. That is more than the $79 billion in total tuition and fee revenue for public institutions”. Taking in numbers like that, free education doesn’t seem that far reached. Considering that those funds are already being put towards college fees, that money can simply be shifted. As well as any federal funded financial aid for students can be put towards the cause to eliminate tuition fees. And for those that deem financial aid is more than enough for students that cannot afford college, it contains restrictions of its own. Whether that be students not qualifying, not being able to navigate the system, or not being able to keep their GPA up for grants or scholarships. These are hurdles wealthy students will never have to face. There is discrimination when it comes to college for the financial elite. Making college free can get rid of that unjust prejudice, and make the playing field fair for all students, no matter their economic background.

Free college education may seem incredibly idealistic, at least in America. Though in reality, it has been done before in the United States, is starting to once again, and is currently being done by various other countries. Comparing how much American students are paying to other countries is quite astonishing. ​ In France,they charge a low “annual fee ($195) that is less than what many U.S. schools charge in a week”. And in Denmark, they actually pay their undergraduates $1,017 a month for room and board instead of charging them. It is quite upsetting how long Americans have accepted such outrageous prices for an education that was once seen as a right, and given for free. Other countries such as Germany, showed immediate outrage when faced with a mere $565 tuition, and was given the positive result of free tuition in 2014.​With the current political climate surrounding innovative proposals to get rid of all student debt, there needs to be bigger strides to truly help kill off overpriced education. There is proof this is a possible plan. Students could go through college not continuously stressing on how they will pay for the next semester, but truly immerse themselves in their studies. Giving college students the ability to grow, and have the room to explore various subjects while in college without the guilt and dread of how much it will cost, can completely alter the culture for student life.

There is a reason we value education. Knowledge is what innovates generations and pushes the envelope on what is seen as possible. With the proper schooling, the students of today can solve the problems that seem incurable. Keeping students from achieving their full potential is unacceptable. Putting financial barriers between their future discoveries that can be revolutionary, or simply unallowing the quality of life they could possess with a college degree. Outrageous college tuition is hindering the minds of America from being able to blossom. If college was made free, there would be no limitations to what the future of Americans can be.

29 April 2022

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