Americans grow up singing their parent’s alma mater songs, wearing their school colors, and preparing for the SAT as early as possible. It’s always been considered an accomplishment to reach a tertiary level of education and to gain a diploma. But what if the price for that accomplishment dwarfs the worth?
According to a report from Experian, the average balance for college loans has gone up 62 percent from 2007 to 2017. The total balance for college loans is now $1.4 trillion.
The start of the college loan system in the United States started on a positive note back in the late 1960s. The system was created to give the most financially challenged individuals the opportunity to reach an education higher than the high school level. Unfortunately, in the last decade it has gotten to where the system has gone from a stepping stone for those who need the extra boost to a wall that students must scale once they enter the real world.
Mounting student loans have been known to create worry and anxiety in students. In fact, according to the Student Loan Review website, loan repayment is linked to various mental health issues such as headaches, restlessness, depression and irritability in borrowers.
Additionally, students normally commit themselves to years of payments with an average of $280 payment per month, depending on the repayment plan. According to Forbes, the long-term consequences are things that many of the borrowers consider down the line. Milestones such as buying a home, getting married or starting a family are being put off indefinitely because those costs would be a burden to their already mounting debt.
¨I feel that borrowing a lot of money for school influences almost every major decision we make in adulthood,” said Daniel Faccini, a Barry student majoring in management. “Yet, I feel it is worth it, having a college degree today is a tool necessary to succeed.”
Faccini, who is also a student athlete, feels fortunate to have gotten full scholarship instead of going through the tedious problems of student loans.
While finishing college in this era increases the chances to gain wealth and secure job opportunities, there have been many cases when the rule does not apply.
For example, the average amount of money that plumbers in Miami Dade County make per year is approximately $56,384, which is 7 percent below the national average.
Steve Jobs, Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg all left their universities before collecting their diplomas. Bill Gates attended Harvard for two years when he decided to leave to build what would become known as Microsoft. The Harvard Crimson describes him as "Harvard's most successful dropout," and today one of the richest men on the world.
So, how can the problem of college debt be solved? Experts argue that more students are attending colleges than ever before, which means there is a higher rate of students borrowing. Tuition has inflated to huge amounts, especially at private universities.
Barry University is no exception. Tuition has increased dramatically over the years. During the ‘90s, the average college tuition was about $12,000 and today it is almost $30,000 for the academic year.
These increases inherently affect the rise of debt necessary to put all those people through school, not to mention the commercialization of education as a whole.
However, the statistics say that people should not sacrifice a college degree altogether.
A Brookins Institution study states that “employees with a bachelor’s degree earn approximately $58,000 more than colleges with a high school diploma.”
Barry graduate student Edith Catulo is pursuing a degree in psychology and has college loan debt upwards of $30,000 but believes that her degree proves to an employer that she can commit to something and follow through with it.
“[It] shows that I have discipline, determination and responsibility. Those are the characteristics that will guarantee me a job in the future,” said Catulo, who will continue her education to become a psychiatrist.
Felix Olivo, currently majoring in sports management, is attending Barry with a bit more freedom since his parents fully subsidize the cost of his education. Still, he doesn’t agree with the cost-prohibitive education in America.
“A degree shouldn´t be a debt sentence, the value of education should not be quantified, maybe it is priceless,” said Olivo.
While it seems like this problem is too big to solve here in America, there are a few countries that have found ways to diminish the quantity of student loans or eliminate them completely.
Countries that offer free or subsidized college education include Germany, Sweden and France. Each of these countries offer different programs. For instance, Germany not only offers free education at public universities, but they also have programs entirely in English for international students. Sweden, on the other hand, offers free higher education for students studying research-based degrees primarily at the doctoral level. There are also programs that companies have adopted that provide workers with a student loan repayment plan during their contract with the company.
The state of New York, however, has made great strides since 2017.
According to CNN Money, New York was the first state in the nation to make tuition-free for middle class students at public colleges. Last year, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced the tuition-free plan where residents of New York do not have to pay anything for tuition. ¨
Undergraduate students that attend a state university will be suitable for the ¨Excelsior Scholarship¨ if their families earn no more than $100,000 a year.¨ said Cuomo.