Over 65% of students, graduate with student loans from public colleges. According to a statistic done by the Department of Education in 2019, over $1.5 trillion are borrowed by the students.  Due to this, many millennials prefer not to apply to colleges. Those who do go to colleges, are buried so deep in student debt that they spend years just to break even. As a student, I find this to be a major hurdle in achieving “educational success”.
In the beginning, education was a luxury for the wealthy. In fact, the first student loan was offered solely to the students at Harvard University in 1840.  It was after World War 2, when student loan became available to general public. The pursuit of the American Dream led to the passage of GI bill, which covered educational expenses for nearly half of the veterans returning from WW2. However, the student loan crises began in the 1980s. In 1986, the total debt incurred by the student and their parents was $10 million.  From there it was a slippery slope to today’s total debt of $1.5 trillion in federal loans.
With percentage of student debt increasing every year, one has to ask whether secondary education is a luxury? Colleges are acting less like an epitome of knowledge and more like a business trying to make as much profit as they can. The tuition of attending a 4-year college program, has more than doubled since the 1980s.  In 1980s, the annual tuition was $2,119 and today its $9,410. This makes an increase of 344%. When compared this percentage to the increase in prices of food and electricity, they had only risen to about 150%. In June 2008, National Commission of Adult Literacy released a report claiming 1 in 3 students in the United States drop out of high school, which may be a factor in why 1 in every 100 adults end up in prison.  This is not only a literacy problem but as well as an economic and political issue.
In 1990, US was considered the optimum place for achieving secondary education. Now, its ranked behind countries like China and South Korea. Germany is the embodiment of affordable education, where over 2.4 million students study free of charge. Nations like Argentina, Denmark, Greece, Kenya, Morocco, Egypt, Uruguay, Scotland and Turkey, also offer free post-secondary education.  Although, the United States isn’t alone in offering student loans, no other country has incurred such high level of student debt in such a short period of time.
On the other hand, with the increase in tuition, means of paying it has also increased. Agency like Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) provides grants, work-study loans, and scholarships to make higher education more affordable. The Federal Pell Grant is an income-based award that pays more than 50% of the tuition per semester. Subsidized loans are also financial-based loans that the receiver has to pay only after they have graduated from the college.  In addition, there are numerous GPA-based scholarships to further motivate student’s success.
Furthermore, policymakers are working towards debt free higher education plan called “Beyond Tuition”.  This plan would tremendously decrease the financial strain on students, by making them pay what they can comfortably afford to. This is an effective strategy targeting prospective students. However, no real solution has been developed in addressing current students and recent graduates. Even though, in today’s political climate many politicians are choosing “student debt crises” as a debate topic, nobody is doing any work that needs to be done to improve it. As a student myself, I believe that education should become more affordable, rather than being buried in loans till we are in our 50s.