Sunday, December 7, 2008

Vision: Government Cannot Allow Higher Education To Become Unaffordable

439 percent – That’s how much tuition has climbed in the past quarter century. If this trend continues, the cost of higher education will soon become too much for most Americans to handle. The government needs to act now and protect student loans – both private and federal – before we price ourselves out of the education we’ll desperately need to guide our country out of the financial crisis.

Questions surrounding the stability and health of our state, national and world economies have dominated the news since mid-summer. And with the cost of tuition on a consistent rise over the last three decades, the affordability of higher education is becoming a very worrisome matter.

While students can still receive a loan from the government, private loans no longer are being given out with the same ease as they once were. With all the stipulations being levied on banks in this period of deleveraging, the government needs to make sure those private student loans so many in our generation depend on are being watched out for.

An alarming statistic cited in a recent edition of the New York Times shows that while tuition in the United States since 1982 has risen 439 percent, the median family income is up only 147 percent. 

This raises a number of issues, not the least of which the educational gap this widening dichotomy is creating – something also cited in the same Times article. If 15 years pass at this same trend, who will be left to patch our sinking ship?

The article goes on to say that for the poorest 20 percent of families, the net cost of a public university is 55 percent of the median income. That meaning over half of their yearly earnings – not savings – would go to their child’s education, should they choose to send him. 

It looks as if it’s becoming more difficult than ever to find the elusive American Dream. It’s becoming more difficult than ever for someone to, as the old saying goes, pull themselves up by their boot straps, and attain a comfortable life for themselves and their family.

While banks and automakers, who have very few to blame but themselves for the positions they’re in, ask for billions of dollars to rectify their mistakes, it becomes increasingly difficult for students – the ones left to pay for and then fix this terrible circumstance – to seek private loans from banks to fund their schooling. This is why the government needs to protect these loans. 

Yes, some students – and many in the workforce – have abused these loans. They purchase TVs, XBoxs or copious amounts of alcohol with their government loan refund check, or use a private loan to avoid having to actually get a job to support their carefree college lifestyle. But this doesn’t mean we should let precious funding slip from hands of a demographic currently in stark need of it. 

The most important tool in navigating through the financial crisis will be education. Enough has been taken from public education in this country. If both federal and private student loans are allowed to remain unprotected by the government, it will be the final blow. 

1 comment:

hfactor said...

439% why-must ask univ to review their mission and operations-the concept of everything for everybody spare no cost -doesnt work--must concentrate on no of hrs of classroom instruction per prof employee to have impact-if not we will revert to 1930's college only for select few-hfactor