Commentary: Is college worth the price?
It’s a well known fact that college is expensive. In fact, the primary reason why many high school graduates choose not to go to college, is the expensive tuition rate. High school graduates have to weigh the price of going to college versus the price of not getting a college degree. Every year, there are less and less people who can afford to pay for college. If you think tuition rates are getting any better, you are sadly mistaken. Current trends show that college tuition costs have been increasing over the years, and the predictions don’t show costs getting better, they show costs getting worse.
What can college hopefuls do to help pay for college? Well, if they can’t afford to pay it themselves, there are two common methods used to help pay college tuition.
The first are scholarships. Scholarships can help pay for the first year of college, and in rare cases, can cover a “full ride” (four years). While this seems great, scholarships have many downsides. The first is who get scholarships. Typically, major scholarships are awarded to students who show excellence in academics, athletics, or both. This is a small minority of the students applying to college. Any other scholarship can barely cover the first year of college. So what about the rest of college applicants or those who don’t qualify for scholarships? Well there is one other option.
Taking a student loan is the second method a high school graduate can use to help pay for college. A student loan is designed to help students pay for university tuition, books, and living expenses. Student loans differ from normal loans in several ways. The first is the repayment schedule. Repayment of student loans can be deferred until the student graduates college. Another way student loans differ from typical loans are the (often) substantially low repayment rates. Sounds great, right? Well, these student loans are typically extremely expensive, and the interest rates can be altered by the lender (usually the college being attended) at any time. College graduates are often found paying off the loans decades after graduating.
The third option does not involve paying a single cent: choosing not to go to college. In the world of today, however, this is no longer acceptable. Every day, more jobs are requiring a college education, primarily a four year degree, just to apply. Something must be done. One option is to increase donations to colleges. Alumni and third party organization donations can help lower tuition rates and make college more affordable for students. Another, slightly more extreme, option is to make college free; By making college free, I mean making public colleges free. Public college tuition rates are still very expensive. Many students must take student loans or rely on scholarships to attend these colleges. Of course, there are problems with making college free. Yet, I believe all of those problems can be overcome.
If college were made free, then any and every high school graduate can strive to get the degree they are willing to work for. No longer would someone be barred by financial hurdles. Everyone deserves a chance to earn their college degree, and making college free would give them that chance.
Video produced by: Justin Jackson, Sebastian Planas, and Gonzalo Londono.