Tuition inflation and its effects
By Jayce Speer-McMullen, Reporter
In previous generations, it was very feasible for many to pay their own way through college by simply working; however, today that is far from the case. Many young men and women’s families simply cannot afford tuition. As a result of this many are looking at post-high school paths that forgo college, while others plan to go into student loan debt or get lucky enough to get a scholarship.
These issues have deep roots in the United States education system, and it’s one of the many things in this country that will take the younger generation showing up at voting booths to have a chance to fix. In many states, there is no tuition cap; in the ones where there are—as proven by the United States’ $1.75 trillion national student loan debt—the tuition cap is not enough. Of course, an individual won’t go to jail for not paying back student loans; however, if they don’t pay their loans on time, it can greatly affect their credit, wage garnishments, and late fees. For reference, according to a study done in 2018, the national average tuition for Canadian public college was over $3,000 less than it is in the United States—all while having vastly better safety nets if students are unable to pay their loans back.
In Canada, The National Student Loan Repayment Assistance Program will also pay off a citizen’s student debt balance after 15 years—a figure which varies from 20-30 years in the United States.
In France for instance, in stark contrast to the United States, students enjoy state-funded college. French students pay anywhere from about $220 to $2,200 U.S. dollars along with living costs.
Even with hard work and a little bit of luck allowing some to finish college and gain their degree of choice, they still have a long way to go. In some fields in which a college degree is required, the profession doesn’t make all that much more than minimum wage.
Now, of course the rising costs of tuition are partly due to inflation and an increase of demand; however, the cost of college has risen at almost five times the rate of inflation over the last 50 years according to a study done by MyeLearningWorld in 2021. While increased prices are to be expected over time, tuition prices—along with the cost of living—have increased at an unsustainable rate for the average college student. While factors outside of these institutions—and to an extent our government’s control like inflation—are certainly a factor in increasing prices, that’s far from where the story ends. Because our laws favor institutions rather than individuals, it’s allowed to increase. Universities also know that students who can’t afford to pay have other remedies, now more than ever before. Companies like Sallie Mae offer, in my view, predatorily high percentage loans to teenagers who don’t know any better and have very few other options.
As previously stated, the price of college has skyrocketed beyond what is sustainable for students whose parents cannot afford to pay for college. Countries like Canada and France are far from perfect in the tuition department; although I’m of the opinion college should be free, they are miles ahead of the United States.