Priceless Education: Is it Worth a Lifetime of Debt?

By Alyssa Nadler

Volume 67, Issue II

Many universities require families to ll out the College Scholarship Service (CSS) form in addition to the free application for federal student aid (FAFSA) when applying for nancial aid. It costs twenty-five dollars to submit a CSS form to every school (CSS/Financial Aid Pro le). It ironically costs people money to apply for a program that they can only qualify for because they do not have the means to pay for the rapidly increasing price of college tuition. The cost of tuition for private schools has risen by over 265% in the past 20 years (Mitchell). Today college can cost up to $68,000 a year includ- ing tuition, room and board, books, and other fundamental college expenses. Higher education is extremely over- priced right now, costing one student a quarter of a million dollars to get a Bachelor’s degree, assuming that student will graduate in four years.

Having a college degree used to be extremely rare and incredibly valuable. People were willing to go into debt because they were almost guaranteed a job when they graduated. It is not that way anymore. A Bachelor’s degree obtained after four years of higher education has become a standard. It no longer guarantees employment. No, now you have to go to graduate school. However, the average person can’t do that because they are already tens of thousands of dollars in debt and are simply incapable of affording it without further burying themselves in student loans and dangerously increasing their liabilities.

Here is where the education sector of the government attempts to justify the price of tuition by explaining nancial aid. I have been on college visits, and I have heard the usual proud statement given by the admissions counselors that they are overjoyed to declare that their school supplies 100% of demon- strated nancial need. And, as nice as that sounds, nancial aid is calculated in such a way that the money provided is not enough to supplement the differ- ence between what the family is able to pay and the price of the school. Due to this corrupt assistance formula a grow- ing number of families are unable to pay the reduced cost of college.


Parents are expected to contribute over 20% of their income to their child’s education along with an irrationally large portion of their savings. And if the student had a job, he/she would be expected to contribute nearly 50% of their income to their education and all of their savings (The EFC Formula). This contribution is unattainable by so many families. If families of students contribute all they are expected to contribute then low-income families would not have enough money left to pay down their mortgage, save for medical needs, or cover any number of basic living expenses. Therefore, in order to pay for the amount of the expected family contribution that the family does not have the means to provide, students are required to take out loans.

This would then be justi ed by explain- ing how priceless education really is, and while I agree with that, how can we be sure that the majority of tuition is in fact going to education? Schools attempt to win over perspective students with an excess of amenities that don’t have much to do with the academics.

Schools are spending more and more money each year renovating buildings and adding extraneous luxuries. The schools do this in order to attract the students of the higher income families that are accustomed to a higher standard of living. The reality is, however, they don’t need these amenities to succeed in college. The rising numbers of student debt in this country can indirectly be related to the amassing amounts of money spent on distractions in universities.

Student loans are the source of an enormous fraction of debt in this country, and this debt will follow students around for a lifetime. If the prices continue to skyrocket without any indication of it ever steadying out, more and more young people are going to opt out of a college education in order to save themselves and their families from the irrationally large pile of debt that will never go away.


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