A Guest Voice by Alex Parks, an intern at Community Commons.
Being part of a generation where parents fret over the costs of higher education, I have witnessed first hand how these pressures affect individuals. I will be graduating from high school in a week and preparing for my freshman year in college. I have received minor scholarships, but due to the competitive nature of merit based aid, these scholarships will only cover a fraction of fees.
Much of the burden is falling on my parents, who are socially expected to fund my college tuition while also saving for their retirement, health care, and other needs. It’s not just my family. The cost for higher education in The United States has risen more than $10,000 while the median household income has remained dormant since 2002. As a result, many students are taking out loans which is now the major route to affording a college education in the United States.
The Obama administration has made a step forward by increasing the maximum for Pell Grants and proposing free community college, but the rate of those increases are minute compared to rate at which student debt and tuition fees are rising. Even with those actions, the costs are still a burden to many, as this Youth Radio feature points out.
But what if I lived somewhere else? Many countries outside the United States offer universally free higher education, including Sweden, Denmark, Greece, Argentina, Estonia, France, Germany, Brazil, Sri Lanka, and more. These countries are able to provide nearly free of charge education through supportive policies and taxation.
As it stands now, the value of higher education in the United States is placed on a pedestal due to the future benefits, but at what cost? I’m going to college this fall but I hope to come out of it without too much debt and the academic knowledge to help change the situation for future generations.