After a year of looking at and researching colleges, traveling from Washington, D.C. to Boston, and spending seemingly endless hours filling out applications, I finally decided where I wanted to attend school for the next four years. But, as for many other students my age, the cost is the greatest factor when making such a significant decision.
This process is overwhelmingly stressful to so many students and usually takes a lot of time. Beginning with taking SATs and/or ACTs (around six hours each), the college search is something you certainly cannot do quickly. It takes hours upon hours, days upon days, and it is no small task. The anxiety is only compounded by concerns about whether or not you can afford to attend the school where you would like to go.
In the last fifty years, the cost of paying for college has sky-rocketed to a point where students, including myself, will pay at least four times more for tuition than their parents did.
Some politicians, however, seem to think little of the burden being put onto today's graduates. Former Pennsylvania senator, and then-presidential hopeful, Rick Santorum called President Obama a snob for his statement that everyone should go be able to college. Here were are, just four months later, and he has endorsed and now supports a man who not only went to college at Brigham Young University, but also has earned a Bachelors Degree from Harvard Law School (like Obama) and an MBA and JD from Harvard University. So, needless to say, that is a little hypocritical.
Now, I am, like our President, in no way saying that everyone must attend a four-year college because it is obviously not for everyone.
In his 2012 State of the Union speech, on January 24, President Obama shared one woman’s personal story in dealing with the cost of education while the demand for at least a moderate salary: “Jackie Bray is a single mom from North Carolina who was laid off from her job as a mechanic. Then Siemens opened a gas turbine factory in Charlotte, and formed a partnership with Central Piedmont Community College. The company helped the college design courses in laser and robotics training. It paid Jackie’s tuition, then hired her to help operate their plant.”
This is exactly what we need to do with our education system in the United States. Granted, not everyone chooses to be a mechanic, but this same plan could apply to other fields of employment as well. Find local companies and offices, connect them with colleges and schools so that professors are educating students about what really goes on and how to do it, and then watch the businesses, economy and, most importantly, our education system grow. Not only would this work right off the bat, but it could be copied by other districts and states, and maybe even other counties.
In less than a month, on July 1st, the interest rate on stafford Loans is set to double to 6.8%, after the decrease in subsidies in the Budget Control Act of 2011. Student loan debt as already reached over $1 trillion (and that was three months ago), and the average student loan debt on graduation is over $25,000.
Politicians would like you to think they know what is best for the education system in America. If they really did, then they all would realize how beneficial it is to keep interest rates on college loans as low as possible. If we don't, then it can (and will) only get worse. Not only for the economy, but also for the future generations of our country.