So college is the great equalizer, right? It’s the vehicle that hypothetically will bring opportunity to the disadvantaged. It’s the catalyst for the modern American dream, or at least that’s the narrative that has been told to America’s youth.
With a national average of $37, 173 for student loan debt, it’s understandable why many Americans have chosen to pursue paths that don’t require a 4-year degree. In addition to rising student loan debt, young Americans are also faced with the increase in cost of living. For many, this modern American dream has become the source of the new American nightmare.
But what has brought about the disproportionate rise in tuition? After all, incomes certainly haven’t risen at the same rate. In this article College Costs Are Soaring, Odland theorizes why tuition has disproportionately risen above what the people are earning. Some of the reasons include:
- Facility upgrades
- Administration compensation
Regardless of the reason, the cost of college is rising! Not only is it affecting the individuals acquiring the massive amounts of debt, it also is impacting society as a whole. While we could blindly accept this reality and continue to acquire debt as a nation, I believe there is a way to minimize the damage. Check out this article from Yahoo Finance 5 Things You Should Know Before Using Student Loans! Here are 5 highlights of their suggestions for avoiding student loan debt (in case you want the express version, here are the main points):
Simple Ways to Avoid College Debt
- Calculate your return on investment. Make sure the major you’re pursuing is going to allow you the chance to pay your debt back. There are many websites that will tell you the average salaries associated with the field you are entering.
- Don’t assume you won’t qualify for financial aid (or scholarships). So many students assume that their middle-income families will disqualify them from receiving adequate financial aid. Don’t make this mistake – fill out a FAFSA!
- Steer clear of private student loans. They’re evil! Period.
- Pick schools that want you. Find schools that are looking for students with the interests you have – they may be willing to pay for it.
- Bottom line: treat student loans as a last resort. Student loans aren’t free money; they have to be paid back. Don’t make the mistake of living the high life while you’re acquiring your degree.
It’s really important that every student that is considering or attending college to be aware of the alternatives to debt. Not only will it hugely benefit their futures, but also it will have a positive cascading effect on society as a whole – ensuring that education is a possibility for generations to come.