Being in College Amid the Student Debt Crisis And How the System Needs to be Changed for the Better

Photo Courtesy/ Flickr The cost of tuition continues to rise as the average wage stay stagnant and may impact students for the rest of their lives from a young age.

Jordan Patterson

Staff Writer

As someone who has fallen victim to a college debt in the thousands, thanks to Bloomsburg, I’ve already had a negative experience with student debt.

The debt took me out of school for two full years where I worked at the local Kohl’s in Bartonsville with some lovely co-workers and lots of awful customers.

I encountered this problem early on but many people aren’t as lucky.

Student debt has reached an outrageous number of $1.56 trillion, according to Forbes.

For reference, the top 10 richest people in the world combined couldn’t pay it off completely.

Similarly, the average student equals out to $32,731 and the average payment is $393.

Statistics also show that student debt affects more than 44.7 million people.

This has had a negative effect on the economy as it is forcing people to grow up later.

More people are putting off buying cars, houses and even getting married solely because they owe so much money.

With so much money being owed, some may ask how things got this way.

After all, just in 1989, the average cost of a four-year degree was just $26,902, $52,892 when adjusted for inflation, and has since jumped to $104,480 as recently as 2015-16, according to Forbes.

Meanwhile, the average wage has grown only $0.03 between the years of 1989 and 2016, not to mention the years that students must waste on classes that aren’t part of their majors.

Well, why is college becoming so expensive?

There are many reasons to point to it.

The demand has increased due to the rise in college required jobs, which is nearly 60% of all jobs, a lack of state funding due to taxpayers not wanting to pay for it, the need to have more faculty and increasing their pay and upgrading the facilities to compete with other colleges.

The list goes on, but it seems like a big chunk just comes from the system as a whole.

Some definitely have a bigger hand than others, but all parties have contributed to this crisis.

The worst part of it is these universities don’t even guarantee a job to graduates.

Around 53% of college graduates are either working a job that doesn’t require their thousand-dollar degree or they don’t have a job at all, according to the University of Washington.

In fact, it takes them three to six months on average to find a career post-graduation.

Statistics like these make some people ask if a degree is even worth it and some may say no.

After all, people like Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates all wear jerseys for both the billionaire team and the college dropout team.

Some have simply resorted to trading schools or just learning skills through the internet and building a career out of that.

However, this isn’t a solution for everyone.

Some people seek to follow a certain career path that demands college and, for as expensive as it is, the college experience can still be a helpful and overall positive one.

There’s also an increased amount of pressure to go as the number of jobs that require a degree increase.

So then, the question is what can we do to pay it off and keep it low?

Two very common answers seem to be either find scholarships or go to a two-year school and then transfer to a four-year school.

Well, scholarships can be hard to find and even after finding them, they’re mostly cheap, a contest of luck that comes with too many rules and stipulations or just comes down to who can do a specific thing the best like writing an essay.

The two-year-four-year plan can be just as flawed two-year schools aren’t free and four-years are very much not free.

It reduces your debt but doesn’t eliminate it entirely.

On top of that, transferring is a huge pain, something I know from experience.

You move to a new environment with new teachers and classmates, which can be overwhelming.

Also, your credits don’t always transfer and the college you transfer to might not have your major or may divide your classes toward your major into different majors.

Some creative ways to ease the troubles of student debt have been suggested and already implemented.

Sweden gives students more time to pay back their loans, while the UK doesn’t make them have to pay back their loans until they hit a certain income level.

Australia handles loans through taxes by tying their payments directly to them how much income they earn.

A bill has even been suggested by the U.S. in which investors will make an agreement with students to pay off their tuition for a percentage of their income for a set amount of years, which ties it directly to income similar to Australia.

None of these are perfect solutions but they’re a step towards one.

If someone asked me if college should be free I’d say yes and no.

I think the education side should be free; we should be going to get good jobs not to get jobs that will pay off our debts, but the amenities that come with college should be paid for by someone.

At the very least, if the education part can’t be free, it needs to be significantly cheaper.

As it stands, college is like a full-time job where the employees pay the employer which is so upside down it makes my feet hurt when I think about it.

There’s so much a college student has thrust upon them from the moment they enroll that it can easily become overwhelming.

On top of the crazy tuition, books alone can cost hundreds of dollars and that’s all before you have any work to do.

My point is, as it stands now, things are not good and real progress needs to be made towards a better outcome.

Real progress does not include pointing fingers, dissing opposing views or dismissing flaws in your own opinion.

It requires all sides to work together to find something that benefits everyone because, as it is, the current system already negatively affects many, many people.

Email Jordan at:

jpatters13@live.esu.edu

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