How to Make College More Affordable
Many of the protesters occupying Wall Street and other places say they are upset about the rising price of going to college. There is little dispute today that the number of students who have debt has increased, and that the amount of money they have borrowed has gone up (Billitteri). Many students incur large amounts of debt that will never pay dividends in higher wages or greater job satisfaction, and they graduate into a world with weak employment prospects. It's a betrayal of the American social contract that says if you work hard and invest in yourself through education, you'll be able to build a better life. The current system is badly in need of an overhaul, and this paper will present several ways to bring about this needed change.
The seriousness of the current situation has worsened during the last few decades. Since 1982, the average cost of college tuition and fees has increased by 439 percent, while the typical family's income has increased by a mere 147 percent (_Measuring_, 8). After adjustment for inflation, students are borrowing twice what they did a decade ago, and total higher-education debt has surpassed credit-card debt for the first time, rising to $1 trillion at the end of 2011 and continuing to climb (Cauchon).
And it's no wonder students are feeling the pinch, when one understands the diminishing role federal grants have in providing education dollars for today's students. "Today a federal Pell Grant covers only about one-third of what it costs for a public four-year college in-state," says Lauren Asher, president of The Institute for College Access and Success in California. "In the 1980s it covered about half; in the 1970s it covered more than 70 percent." (Abramson).
The reality is that for young people today, it is harder to educate one's way into the middle class, and college costs are leaving many in this generation without the credentials they need to thrive in the 21st century
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