Debt, Degrees & Decisions

When President Barack Obama laid out his plan to offer two years of community college free for students, I couldn’t help but look at the cost of my own education.

With Wittenberg’s help, the price tag was comparable to a public university. Even with the generous grants, my parents and I still took on a large amount of debt. They also have my younger brother’s future college costs to consider.

Students pursuing degrees from four-year colleges and universities all over the country are taking on large amounts of debt at a time in their lives when they are the least equipped to handle that responsibility.

Eighteen-year-olds are, by all legal and medical standards, not fully adults. Yet we ask them to make one of the biggest financial decisions of their lives at that age. Debt cripples young workers and their families, particularly if they have difficulty finding a job after graduation.

Students and their parents are responsible for their own decisions. No one forced me or anyone else to attend college or tricked me into making a decision I shouldn’t have. I love Wittenberg, and wouldn’t trade my experience here for anything.

But the catch is, college is still a prerequisite for a majority of good paying jobs.

High school seniors are forced to choose between low earnings in the workforce, or large amounts of debt after four years of school.

Expanding President Obama’s plan to include four-year degrees is the solution that we desperately need.

After WWII, the thousands of soldiers returning home went to school at no cost thanks to President Roosevelt’s  G.I. Bill. Those men and women, free to pursue the American dream, formed the basis for the modern middle class.

With college degrees and middle class jobs, those veterans were able to send their children to school.

A new law, eliminating college debt for everyone, would stop the shrinking number of middle class Americans.

Students will still pay for their education later in life with their tax dollars. There is no such thing as a free lunch.

Tax-payer-funded education may present problems of its own, but we need to genuinely consider all alternatives so that the next generation of students won’t have to face the same challenges.

Education shouldn’t be a privilege for those who can afford it. High levels of education nationwide, regardless of class, are the hallmarks of a society of critical thinkers and free people.

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