Student loan debt is a huge issue for college graduates and prospective students. The promise of a job and a better future have convinced many to take out large loans. In fact, as of February, the New York Federal Bank reported that the total national student loan debt is over $1 trillion. In other words, 10% of American household debt comes from student loans. This is higher than both credit card and auto loan debt.
In particular, millennials are feeling the heat. According to one study, one third of millennials would sell an organ to pay off their student loans. This study only surveyed 200 participants- likely too small a number to represent an entire generation. However, such melodrama highlights an important fact: college students are amassing an unhealthy amount of debt, often before they are established.
How have student loans gotten so far out of hand? Well, the cost of higher education has been rising steadily. According to Forbes, “Since 1985, the overall consumer price index has risen 115% while the college education inflation rate has risen nearly 500%.” Part of these costs are related to bloating bureaucracies and administrators at institutions of higher education.
State governments have also been unable to provide the funding needed to keep costs low for students. This has happened in our own state, and to our own institution. The Minnesota State Colleges and University (MnSCU) system asked the Minnesota legislature for an extra $142 million on top of the operating budget to fund a tuition freeze. The State allocated $100 million, choosing to freeze tuition at MnSCU’s two-year schools and leaving the 4-year schools out in the cold.
So, what can students do? Hopefully, get a job and pay back their loans. Likewise, they can engage in active discussion with their legislators. We can pressure them to fund higher education. The fact that you are enrolled in this class would suggest that see you some value higher education. While I am taking classes at Metro with the hopes of gathering the skills I need to find a job, I believe higher education is good for democracy. A more educated populace is capable of making more informed decisions that will hopefully be better for society as a whole.
The cost of higher education keep many disadvantaged people from perusing college. I have been lucky enough to be financially able to attend Metro State. Hopefully, I don’t find myself looking for a scalpel and gauze after I earn my diploma.