By: Scarlett Shelley
Around 55% of college students struggle to pay for their education. About 51% of college students drop out because they can’t afford to pay for their education. In the United States, students must pay to get the education that they deserve and need. In many cases, companies require college education as a prerequisite for employment, but, because college is too expensive, not as many people can enter the workforce in higher-paying positions.
According to Northwestern Mutual, depending on the kind of college students choose to attend, the prices can range from an average cost of $22,000 per year at a public institution and $50,000 per year at a private institution. Why do young people have to make such important and long-lasting financial decisions to be educated? The University of the People reported that, in the United States, the average debt per person is $31,172. For those teenagers that work, data show that they make about $2,000 a year, so even if they were to save up for their whole high school careers, they would each only have $6,000. Teenagers can’t get the education they need because they can’t afford it.
It is unfair to charge people for an education because it inevitably disadvantages those of lower socioeconomic status. Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities studied the average incomes of those with a college education and those without. They found: “On an annual basis, bachelor’s degree holders earn about $32,000 more than those whose highest degree is a high school diploma.” Not all people get the opportunity to go to college because of their financial situation, so they are forced to struggle for the rest of their lives. Is that fair?
At Harvard University, the cost of tuition is $75,891 before financial aid. Although applicants can be considered for scholarships and financial aid, families can still have trouble paying these high rates. The University of the People also wrote that free colleges can improve society. It has been proven that when more people are educated, they can solve problems better, which will lead to greater advancements in society. Additionally, if more people have higher-paying jobs, the wealth gap between the rich and the poor will shrink. If there are countless benefits to not charging for higher education, then why do we charge in the US?
In countries like Norway, Finland, France, and other European countries, college education is free, so everyone can have the opportunity to get the education they deserve. These countries are seeing the benefits of free education, like a smaller wealth gap. Not only does free education allow more people to go to college, but it also allows people to do better in college. With a free education, students do not have to dedicate a portion of their time to a part-time job, and they can focus solely on their studies.
Getting an education should be free. Everyone deserves to have the same opportunities. The United States just needs to take a look and see the number of people struggling to achieve a life they deserve. Bernie Sanders said it best: “An education should be available to all regardless of anyone’s situation.” College should be free.