College + Capitalism = Debt

By: Briana McDonald

If my current financial aid package stays consistent for all four years, I’ll be leaving college with a bachelor’s degree and over $80,000 I have to pay back. And that’s not even counting interest from the unsubsidized federal loans and inevitable private loans I’ll be taking out to finance my education.

And I’m not alone in this. High school juniors and seniors around the country are realizing that it’s going to take a lot to get them through college without debt, seeing as college costs are consistently rising higher than they’ve ever been – and there’s not enough financial aid to keep up with the rate. In 1971, Harvard College was forced to apologize to students because they raised their tuition for the second year in a row to $2,600. Last year, tuition (not including room and board) would have set you back $45,000.

CNBC conducted a report on the levels of inflation versus the rising college costs over the past century, including a variety of college and university types. Inflation in general has increased 41% since 2000, while the average tuition for a four-year public university has risen one and a half times as fast and inflated 90% since 2000.

Students around the country have been asking the question: why is college so expensive? In the United Kingdom, the average cost of higher education is capped by the government. The maximum cost of education is £9000, which currently translates to about $11,200, nearly half of average college tuition here in the States. Academic freedom is important, but so is financial freedom; so many critics say that the US government is not doing enough to make college affordable or make sure that students understand what they are getting into when they apply for student loans. Attempts by the Obama administration to refuse financial aid to colleges that increased their prices beyond a reasonable amount were barred by Congress and bashed by universities, and there is little probability that the Trump administration will take on this issue.

So where is the solution here?