A Chronicle of Higher Education article states that only 34 percent of high-achieving high-school seniors in the bottom quarter of family income went to one of the 238 most selective colleges, compared with 78 percent of students from the top quarter (Markell). Certainly, these numbers show that students that come from low income families aren’t getting the opportunities that they deserve. With college costs going nowhere but up, students from low-income families face tough decisions. Some students choose to attend community college while some make the decision to take out additional loans.
There are also those who choose to drop out because they can no longer sustain the cost of college. Those who don’t have the money to go to a selective college are often not reaching their full potential. Therefore, college cost should be lowered so that more people can have the opportunity to get higher education. Such a push is needed; firstly, due to the continuous rise in tuition, higher education is becoming less and less affordable for low-income students. According to the Journal of College Admission, from 1982 to 2007, college tuition and fees increased by 439 percent, while median family income increased by 147 percent.
Last year, the net cost at four-year public universities amounted to 28 percent of median family income, while a four-year private college or university consumed 76 percent of median family income (Mahoney). These numbers show that college cost has risen at a rate that has consistently outpaced the median family income and also inflation. Patrick Callan, president of the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education, states, “If we go on this way for another 25 years, we won’t have an affordable system of higher education”(Callan).
Essentially, if college cost doesn’t stop increasing it will become unaffordable and many will choose not to get higher education. Furthermore, there are many students who aren’t getting the opportunity that they deserve because they are not able to afford it. At the most competitive colleges, only 14 percent of students come from the lower 50 percent of families by income (Perez-Pena). Some low-income students who study very hard can’t reach the diploma or certificate. A New York Times article states, “While 2. 8 million students enroll in some form of higher education each year, most do not proceed straight through to graduation.
Only one in five of those who enroll in two-year institutions earn an associate degree within three years, and only two in five of those who start four-year colleges complete their degrees within six years”(Lewin). College being outrageously expensive is one of the reasons students are not reaching their full potential. Access to higher education has become increasingly difficult for low income families, yet a college degree is more important than ever in today’s economy. Indeed, there’s no denying that college tuition and expenses aren’t cheap.
In the 2011-12 academic year, the average net cost for a full-time student at an in-state public university was about $15,000 for tuition, fees, room, board, books and incidental expenses, according to the College Board (Clark). Four years of college costs about 60,000 dollars. Aside from tuition, college students also have to worry about the other expenses that come with being a college student. Those who don’t have enough to afford it are faced with tough decisions. According to a New York Times article, about 7 in 10 of the dropouts said they had no scholarship or loan aid.
Among those who got degrees, only about four in 10 went without such aid (Perez-Pena). College students who come from low-income families are being forced to take out additional loans to afford college. Some students choose to attend community college while some make the decision to take out additional loans. There are also those who choose to drop out because they can no longer sustain the cost of college. Often times, students cannot afford the cost of living while completing a college education. Certainly, there are many reasons why students drop out of college, but the decision oftentimes has a lot to do with money.
According to Public Agenda, a nonpartisan public policy research firm that conducted a telephone survey of more than 600 people ages 22 to 30 for the report, “Of students surveyed, 58 percent said they did not receive any financial help from their parents or relatives to pay tuition or fees, and 69 percent had no scholarships or financial aid” (Johnson). More than half of students are not being supported by their families or anyone else for that matter. Also, more than one-half of students are not receiving any type of scholarship or financial aid.
The dropouts’ most popular solutions were allowing part-time students to qualify for financial aid, offering more courses on weekends and evenings, cutting costs and providing child care (Johnson). Most times, it’s just not attainable for a college student to afford college costs. Moreover, students who don’t have financial help from family or are not fortunate enough to get scholarships or grants are often forced work to pay for school. The New York Times states, “The top reason the dropouts gave for leaving college was that it was just too hard to support themselves and go to school at the same time.
Balancing work and school was a bigger barrier than finding money for tuition, they said. In fact, more than a third of the dropouts said that even if they got a grant that covered their books and tuition, it would be hard to go back to school, given their work and family commitments” (Lewin). Essentially, low-income students are having to work while attending college. Many students find it difficult to find time to study, because they are too busy working part-time jobs in able to pay for their education and other necessities.
Those students who are not able to balance school, work, and also other things often end up dropping out. A downturn in college tuition would definitely help those students who are in need of help financially. Ultimately, a decrease in college cost would greatly benefit the larger society. There will be more students who will be able to afford higher education. With this in mind, higher education will lead to better access to jobs with higher pay and the broadening of a college student’s social and mental horizons. College students will also no longer have to worry about being buried in debt after college.
As Obama, the 44th president of the United States of America, states, “As a nation, our future ultimately depends on equipping students like you with the skills and education a 21st-century economy demands. If you have the opportunity to reach your potential and go as far as your talent and hard work will take you, that doesn’t just mean a higher-paying job or a shot at a middle-class life — it means a stronger economy for us all. Because if your generation prospers, we all prosper. And I’m counting on you to help us write the next great chapter in our American story” (Obama).
In other words, Obama believes that higher education can lead people to success and that it is vital to the nation’s future. Lower college cost will lead to students reaching their potential. While it is true that a decrease in college tuition would just lead to students who are not meant for college wasting their time, there are many students who are actually academic material that cannot afford to get higher education. A study by the Hamilton Project at the Brookings Institution in Washington points out that half of Americans in the top fourth of the income distribution have a college degree.
Among the poorest fourth of Americans, fewer than one in ten graduated from college (Porter). Higher education is turning into a privilege for the higher society. The rising cost of college is preventing low-income students from getting higher education. A decrease in college cost will give low-income students more options and it will benefit the larger society in the future. Ultimately, what is at stake here is that students who have the potential to succeed in college are not able to attend because they lack money.
College has turned into a privilege for the higher society when it should be one’s right. Colleges need to be more accountable for making sure that their students graduate. Decreasing college cost will also decrease the number of students being in debt after finishing college. Higher education cost rising is causing low-income students to be locked out of higher education. Therefore, college cost should be lowered so that more students will have the opportunity to get higher education, especially those who lack money. Works Cited Clark, Kim. “How much does college actually cost?
” cnn. com. CNN. Web. 24 November 2013. Johnson, Jenna. “Majority of college dropouts cite financial struggles as main cause. ” The Washington Post. The Washington Post, 8 December 2009. Web. 24 November 2013. Lewin, Tamar. “College Dropouts Cite Low Money and High Stress. ” New York Times. New York Times, 9 December 2009. Web. 24 November 2013. Mahoney, John L. “Thoughts In Troubled Times. ” Journal Of College Admission 209 (2010): 4-6. Academic Search Complete. Web. 24 November 2013. Markell, Jack. “How To Give Low-Income Students The Chance They Deserve.
” Chronicle Of Higher Education 60. 6 (2013): A27. Academic Search Complete. Web. 24 November 2013. Obama, Barack H. “President Obama on Early Childhood Education. ” Remarks by the President on Early Childhood Education. Decatur Community Recreation Center, Decatur, Georgia. 14 February 2013. Perez-Pena, Richard. “Efforts to Recruit Poor Students Lag at Some Elite Colleges. ” New York Times. New York Times, 30 July 2013. Web. 24 November 2013. Porter, Eduardo. “Dropping Out of College, and Paying the Price. ” New York Times. New York Times, 25 June 2013. Web. 24 November 2013.
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