Saturday, February 17, 2018

Cost of College Is Starting to Outweigh Benefits

BORA ZALOSHNJA ’20

OPINIONS EDITOR

As spring comes around, you may be strolling around Trinity’s campus, admiring it’s beauty, and think to yourself, “wow, I hope one day I have kids and get to send them here too.” Don’t get too excited though, because in 18 years it could cost half a million dollars to do that. Investment company Vanguard cites that recently costs of college have been rising at an average of 6 percent a year. The College Board estimates that the average price of a private school education 18 years from now could be $121,078 a year and the average price of public school will be $54,070 a year.

If prices keep going in the same direction, people could be spending ludicrous amounts of money to send their kids to college, especially if they have multiple children. Many are already struggling to afford college, and price increases will only make the student debt crisis worse. The cost of higher education needs to be mitigated, not grown

As students of Trinity College, this problem hits close to home. Trinity’s price tag is already fairly high in comparison to other higher education options, and they just recently announced a tuition increase for next year. While Trinity does offer an exceptional education, it will become harder and harder to justify spending so much money on it if this trend continues.

Education is an investment, and a lot of people are not seeing enough return on their investments in undergraduate degrees. People are coming out of college with more debt than ever and finding it hard to find jobs to pay this debt off. Millennials are living with their parents after college at higher rates than ever. Pew Research Center found that for the first time ever, more 18 to 34 year olds are living with their parents than in any other living arrangement. This is caused both by increasing student debt and the over-saturation of the job market with college degree holding young people.

Student  debt is arguably one of the greatest economic problems this country faces. Many argue that student debt will be the perpetrator of the next financial crisis. Loans are being handed out to many people who do not have the capacity to pay them back, which is what caused the housing collapse of 2007. Loan programs need to greatly mitigated, especially since “there is overwhelming evidence that the main beneficiaries of the student loan programs are not students, but rather university bureaucrats, professors, and others who have captured the loan money,” according to the Center for College Affordability and Productivity.

Rather, higher education should turn to Income Share Agreements, a type of agreement in which the lender agrees to pay a certain percentage of their income back to the loaner for a fixed amount of years. The government should also invest more in higher education so universities don’t have to make their tuitions so high in the first place.

This over-investment in higher education not only saddles young people with loans they can’t pay off but also makes it harder for them to find jobs. The notion that one needs a college degree to be successful is more prevalent than ever in society, and more people are going to college than ever with help from these loans. This makes an undergraduate degree worth less. Fifty years ago having a college degree meant something, but nowadays just a having a bachelor’s degree isn’t enough to land a job because so many people have them.

Young people need to stopped being pushed towards going to college. There are so many other options, and college isn’t necessarily the right option for everyone. In Germany, a country that has free higher education, many people opt for vocational education because they don’t need college for their desired profession. People go to college for a purpose rather than just going for the sake of going. Because university enrollment isn’t as high, it’s cheaper for the government to subsidize universities.

People also don’t need a degree to make good money. Many tech mavens drop out of college because they already have the skill sets they need to be successful. Paypal founder Peter Thiel felt so passionately about this he paid 20 young people $100,000 each to not go to college. He ultimately felt that kids he chose to receive the grant were more helpful to society in the workforce than in a university. Society  needs to follow Thiel’s example and stop perpetuating the idea that college is a necessary part of the equation for success.

The future of higher education is currently a frightening one. Major changes need to be made to the way this country looks at and handles college. Having a  functioning and effective education system is an essential part of economic growth and stability. If America is to build its future that future needs to be built on education.

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