College Tuition is too damn high! With the average four-year college charging $21,189 per year – a figure so high, it’s just under half the median household income – middle-class college students are being forced to either pursue a mediocre education at nearby community colleges or saddle themselves with an average of $24,000 in debt over the course of their four years of college. Stuyvesant students, many of whom live in low-income families, are finding it increasingly harder to afford the high quality education they’ve worked so painfully hard to earn. Stuck between a rock and a hard place, middle-class families everywhere are faced with the reality that the American dream of social mobility through higher education is fading away.
Lucky for them, President Obama has come to the rescue! To stop college prices from spiraling upward, Obama hopes to force colleges to lower their tuition rates by threatening to cut government financial aid funding to colleges that don’t comply. Obama’s plan, according to Molly Corbett Broad, president of the American Council on Education in Washington, “smacks of price controls,” which is a sad reality in America, a land built on capitalist free markets.
Though forcing colleges to lower tuition rates may sound good on the surface, we have to dig deeper and ask ourselves where these colleges are going to receive the money to survive if they slash tuition rates. With increased budget cuts, increased enrollment, and a growing number of families in need of financial aid, operational costs are skyrocketing. Colleges are increasingly depending on increased tuition, their main source of revenue, to cover costs.
With decreased tuition rates, many state colleges are going to be left desperately in need of money to balance their budget –forcing them to cut school programs, jobs, and planned renovations.
The consequences are two-fold.
First, cutting academic activities and building renovations and other key school programs are going to hurt the education of American children, only further decreasing the global prestige of the United States. What we’re seeing is that Obama’s plan to ‘promote’ education will actually end up diminishing student’s academic opportunities.
Second, the college jobs that could be cut in order to meet budget needs will further hurt the American economy.
The colleges that refuse to comply with the President’s demand for lower tuition rates face even more severe consequences. Obama is planning to remove government funding from their campus-based aid programs—work-study programs, Perkins loans, and supplemental grants for low-income students – thus preventing underprivileged students from getting the education Obama has so often called “necessary.” Spokesman for the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators, Haley Chitty said, “Ultimately, who you are punishing with this is the students. They’re the ones who get this aid.”
The President is putting colleges in a lose-lose situation. If they comply, they cut jobs, school programs, and renovations, thus hurting the economy and diminishing academic opportunities. If they don’t comply, the government cuts millions of government-sponsored financial aid programs, crippling the underprivileged lower class’s ability to pursue higher education. Either way, Obama’s plan, which might sound amazing at first glance, is financially irresponsible and will undoubtedly hurt Americans.
Obama’s proposal will set a dangerous precedent for government intervention in business and private affairs. The American Council on Education has already publicly denounced Obama’s proposal for that very reason. If the government has the power to determine that education price controls are ‘necessary,’ what’s next?
In addition to forcing colleges to lower tuition rates, President Obama has also outlined a plan to alleviate the burden of college debt on Americans who have taken out student loans that they cannot pay back. Obama is going to pay for the college debt himself. The money of tax-paying parents who saved every penny to send their kids through college is going to be used to clear the debt of those who were too irresponsible to pay it back themselves. Rather than this, the government should continue to hold students accountable for the debt they acquired from college.
Specifically, the minimum percentage of income that students must pay to the government every year will be lowered from 15 percent to 10 percent. In lay terms, the government is allowing college students to further procrastinate paying their debt. Second, and by far, worse, the government is going to forgive student debt after 20 years. That means the government will absorb unpaid debt. Once again, I have to ask – where does Obama plan on getting the money to pay for it? I don’t believe middle-class students shouldn’t be getting higher education. They should be able to, but at a college they can reasonably afford.
With trillions of dollars in debt and government spending at an all-time high, the American government should be cutting spending, not using valuable taxpayer money to forgive the loans of one group of people.
President Obama keeps telling Americans that college education is necessary, but tells us nothing about where he is going to get the money to pay for it. No, Mr. President, money does not grow on trees. No matter how badly you want something, if you don’t have the money, you can’t have it. Sure, it would be great if the government could just absorb all college debt. In fact, it would be great if the government could provide the funds for everyone to get a college education – because education is important to the future growth of this nation. But in working to make higher education affordable, we must remain financially responsible.
As is usual during election season, candidates are making absurd proposals to appeal to voter, which, in this case, are college students. I would love Obama to reduce college tuition, but forcing colleges to do so is not the way to do so. It will only hurt students’ educational opportunities and force colleges to fire employees, ultimately hurting the economy. I would love Obama to alleviate the burden of college debts, but absorbing the costs is not the financially responsible decision. Obama’s plans are a gimmick to get votes. If ever passed into law, they will cost our nation dearly.