College: from the eyes of the kids who can’t afford it

Let us first and foremost shed light on the fact that not all issues that should be front and center in the world of news always are, especially those that people may feel are out of their control. After all, who in their right mind would truly believe that anything they had to say about their own personal struggles in relation to living as a college student, would be heard by 5,300 institutions nationally? Todays reality behind what I will refer to as, the college epidemic, lies with the fact that a college degree is not optional for most jobs in todays economy. That being said, more and more students from low-income backgrounds are pursuing higher education. However, as we all know, with higher education comes higher costs, in the United states of America. In this public argument, I will provide context on the issue of college student poverty in America from both objective and subjective articles in order to display the arguments surrounding the importance of finding solutions for us struggling students.

College in America isnt free or required like it was for high school, yet the systems acts as if college is a choice that is not imperative to the type of future one is to obtain for themselves. So, America leaves us with two options: option one, dont go to college, and struggle the rest of your life attempting to climb ladders of places that dont require a college degree that will most likely keep you working minimum wage for years to come, or, option two, attend college for (at least) four years to get a degree that may or may not be applicable to anything you want to do in the future, for an education so costly that you will be living as if you got paid minimum wage for years to come beyond your college career. Heres the kicker though, for at least four years of our lives, the people of both options are living the same lives. College degree or not, for four years, let me reiterate, for 1,460 days, we are all living off of the dollar menu at McDonalds, and most of us are working there too. Most of us live with at least 4 other people just to be able to afford rent, share a house car, work 2 jobs besides the one at McDonalds, and whatever side jobs we can find as well. In addition, we are expected to maintain a social life, a university life, keep our mental and physical well being in check, and, somehow, make time for the copious amounts of homework from the credit overload of trying to graduate in a timely manner.

To comprehend the feeling of crisis that various people are feeling right now in regards to obtaining a higher education, let us delve into some statistics from 40 years ago. In 1974, the median American family earned just under $13,000 a year. A new home could be had for $36,000, an average new car for $4,400. Attending a four-year private college cost around $2,000 a year: affordable, with some scrimping, to even median earners. As for public university, it was a bargain at $510 a year. To put these figures in current dollars, were talking about median family income of $62,000, a house for $174,000 and a sticker price of $21,300 for the car, $10,300 for the private university and $2,500 for the public one(Adam Davidson).

Historically, another article states that, Students at public four-year institutions paid an average of $3,190 in tuition for the 1987-1988 school year, with prices adjusted to reflect 2017 dollars. Thirty years later, that average has risen to $9,970 for the 2017-2018 school year. Thats a 213 percent increase(Emmie Martin).

In only 30 years, the cost of college has gone up 213%. This insinuates that if my generation waits ten years to have children, my children will be paying 213% of what Im paying today for NORMAL college. Not private college. Thats well over 20 grand. In the next article about statistics on college rates and price increases, it states, Over the past 10 years, the average price for tuition and fees at four-year private colleges and universities has jumped to $34,740 a year, up more than $7,000, according to statistics from the College Board(Dan Kaplinger). Just more price raises to consider.

Furthermore, it so important for impoverished students to receive help. Food insecurity hinders academic performance, and as aforementioned, the effects of being hungry negatively effect so much more than onesgrades. Hunger in the midst of plenty weakens studentssense of belonging and undercuts their social, emotional and physical well-being. Knowing ones peers are away relaxing while you scrounge for food makes poor students not only keenly aware of their own economic disadvantage, but also of what their colleges make them endure because of it(Anthony Jack).

In order to understand exactly how much this poverty alters a college studentslife, it is important that we grasp the scope of reality. One article (Sydney Johnson) delves into the complexity of affordability and financial aid. This is massively important seeing as tuition is not the only factor in regards to poverty with college students. This article, goes into depth about the factors of finding food, working multiple jobs, and attempting to keep up with ones academic and social life.

The aforementioned article differently claims that innovative approaches such as those mentioned in The Atlantic article written by Marcella Bombardieri ( arent helping solve the college affordability crisis. Johnson argues that (not specifically) Bombardieris theory of attempting to bring these impoverished college students out of the weeds by implementing alert systems for students who are at risk financially, will only put our country into economic turmoil. In saying this, Sydney Johnson delves into the world of free community college and how free community college really isnt free, considering all of the expenses that coincide with being a college student.

Similarly, in an article that promotes the rise of college costs, it is suggested that the rising cost in college is warranted, seeing as it is ensuring ones future. The article states, many experts concur, pointing out that college graduates, on average, do still make considerably more than those with just a high school diploma.The article also goes into depth on the necessity behind college prices rising, seeing as it creates a rising economy and a healthy competitionbetween students all across America. ,, Moreover, if any old joe could afford college, then there wouldnt be a demand, or an existing hierarchy that makes the current work force go round.

To put this crisis into local terms, a very interesting, but a little outdated statistic from 2009 in another article found that, At the University of Hawaii at Manoa, public health researchers found in 2009 that 21 percent students there experienced this reality firsthand(Anthony Jack). The reality he speaks of is the reality of not knowing where your next meal is coming from. To date, UHM has 13,000 students. This being a current reality on a percentage which, is surely higher now, thats 2,600 students. There are over two thousand students that have no idea where theyre getting their next meal from when cafeterias close. I recall being a freshman on campus in 2015 when a winter break happened. I had a friend who was so desperate to find food, outside of my house, that she literally began using Tinder in attempts to secure food for the couple of weeks before the cafe opened back up. These struggles are real for us, in our own neighborhood.

In terms of proposed solutions, finding realistic solutions for student poverty could be transformative for the U.S. higher-education system. In an earlier mentioned article by Dan Caplinger, a proposed solution to end hunger during the breaks that colleges have was, Increases to federal Pell Grants would provide students with resources for expenses associated with being in college, those covered by tuition and the many incidentals that are not. Expanding college studentseligibility for SNAP is equally important. These changes would allow students to focus energy and time on academics instead of strategizing about ways to secure food(Anthony Jack). I think that in many ways this would prove to be very helpful. I know a handful of people who receive generous aid from their Pell Grant for outside-of-school expenses, such as food. However, throughout my many years in college, I have only ever met one that can live with a complete student status and survive solely off of the Pell Grant. On top of paying for her tuition, she receives approximately $4000 a month to be able to live comfortably while having a full-time student status. After rent and bills, that averages out to living off of 40$ a day for anything she might need. Perhaps free college isnt the answer to this rapidly expanding epidemic, but an increase in loans, or grants, on both the federal and state level, would prove to enhance student performance nationally.

Bombardieris previously mentioned article was both moving and innovative in terms of finding realistic solutions to ending poverty amongst college students in their college, and for students all over America as well. Some of these proposed solutions were having an alert system in place for students who are beneath the poverty line, which alerts professors to reach out to students before they succumb to a downward spiral. I think that this could actually be effective seeing as human contact is one of the basic needs of human life. If students think that someone cares about their well-being, and their success rate in school, they will, in turn, be more likely to succeed.

Across the board, many argue that the solution to the college epidemicis free college. I think that receiving a free education is an extremely peculiar concept, seeing as that is something very foreign to us here in America. I know that under the Obama administration, along with free healthcare, there was much inquiry about free community college, and despite the impact some say it may have on our economy, I hope to see that become reality one day.


One Comment to “College: from the eyes of the kids who can’t afford it”

  1. Thanks for sharing this article. I knew that college tuition was on the rise but I had no idea that it had risen 213% in only 30 years. The facts and figures you share really cement the argument that college tuition is an issue and should be addressed.

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