The College system and Cost

HAMID KOLAHDOUZ. Sports Columnist.

As students and their families receive their college decisions and schedule visits to decide which school they will hopefully spend the next four years of their lives, one factor heavily outweighs the others: cost.

The cost of college in America today is extremely high, in some cases costing close to twice the annual U.S average income $35,000 per year to attend.

Universities and the government contend that students should take out loans to pay the ridiculous price, either privately through banks or through the government if they qualify. College loans are generally loaned on compounded interest and often students find themselves in a web of debt coming out of college. Instead of starting their lives and careers cleanly as they should, college graduates are already weighed down with debt.

Even government loans are offered at a paltry three percent interest to students. Of course, the government simultaneously loans 60 billion dollars (previously 80) a month interest free to private, corporate banks, at no benefit to the American people. If the government can find the money to loan interest free to Wall Street banks that use it to pay themselves through bonuses, loan at interest overseas, and mask their  toxic assets, then they can find the money to loan interest free to students since the government  is unwilling to properly allocate funds to public education to make loans unnecessary.

The notion that a person should seriously handicap their future by burdening themselves with debt in order to get a quality higher education is ridiculous. In the vast majority of industrialized, first world countries (excluding just the U.S and England) higher education is a right, the same as grades 1-12 and  public university tuition is free to attend. No one is forced to pay total costs ranging from tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands of dollars to enable themselves to succeed in life. Of course, citizens still pay for higher education through taxes but their investment is within democratic control and not at the mercy of business driven “educators.”

Previously, America didn’t quite have such a problem. While America always had private universities that were generally way too expensive for the average person to attend, the creation of land-grant universities during the Civil War and successive decades expanded higher educational opportunity to the working class by creating a public university system. People like my grandfather were able to become the first ones in their family to graduate from a university by working their way through college. Attendance at SDSU in the 1950’s cost just $50, or $440 adjusted to modern inflation, a semester to attend for in state students per year. Today the price of attendance is over $20,000 a year for the same students.

Until recent years, public schools provided a quality, affordable college education and working one’s way through college was a realistic expectation but now due to total mismanagement of the government and taxation public universities are highly underfunded, causing hikes in tuition. The problems the public school system faces are systematic and likely require real change within the government to be fix.

Private schools aware of the massive loan business flourishing have begun to heavily raise their already enormous costs of attendance knowing they will be paid heavily at the exploitation of students. Certain schools like NYU would be hard to differentiate from a real estate firm with a university as a revenue source, actively buying up real estate in some of the world’s most expensive, coveted markets, Manhattan, Abu Dubai, and Shanghai, to open more “campuses.” Private higher education has completely turned into a business where the objective is to make money not to educate.

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