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  • Student: The American Dream is Becoming a Debt-Ridden Nightmare

    6/25/2012 11:22:55 AM Posted by Cheri Cerame

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    By Hillary Cherry, Young America's Foundation Intern  

    While college tuition continues to increase, employment across America continues to decrease. A record breaking Youth Misery Index proves the severity of the predicament we are facing today. As I quickly approach my senior year of college, these statistics are no longer just numbers to me but an actuality.

    I am realizing that growing up to live the American Dream is just not a reality anymore.

    Higher tuition is making the dream of attending the college of your choice more of a nightmare on families than any other time in the past. If you want to go to college students and families are basically forced to take out large loans at high interest rates. These loans are only adding on to the enormous amount of debt we will already be inheriting when we graduate.

    Why is the cost of college tuition increasing? According to the Wall Street Journal, tuition at for-profit schools where students receive federal aid was 75% higher than at comparable for-profit schools whose students do not receive any aid. Federal aid is not the way to solve our problems. State subsidies are being cut, yet colleges continue to attract students by investing in expensive things, like high-profile faculty members, fancy facilities, and a low student-to-teacher ratio.

    While tuition is increasing, teacher productivity seems to be decreasing-isn't that the reason why we are attending these expensive universities to begin with?

    College tuition and mandatory fees at public institutions have increased within every state. The San Francisco Chronicle reported that University of California campuses at Berkeley, Los Angeles, Merced, Riverside, Santa Cruz, San Diego and Irvine all saw tuition increases of 40 to 43 percent between 2009 and 2011. These statistics are causing high school students to question if college is even worth attending.

    Most students are taking out loans, which they assume they will be able to pay off after graduation once they land a good job. If our economy continues down the path it is headed that "good job" might turn into something part-time while living with mom and dad.

    As the Obama administration travels across the nation to college campuses, students welcome them with open arms and deafening cheers. Do these students really understand the implications of the President's policies? Not surprisingly, the administration's solution is to subsidize those costs more, then order everyone on the receiving end of the subsidies to perform in ways that run counter to their own interests. Therefore, prices will continue to rise rapidly, only bringing calls for larger subsidies and stricter mandates.

    The Obama administration has made the process of receiving a loan so easy anyone can do it. We need tuition prices to decrease, not create an easier way to get loans. The Obama administration is not solving the problem; he is just creating an even bigger debt for college students and the nation.

    The Obama administration has given our generation enough "gifts." Just because a student receives a loan, the price of higher education does not magically become any more affordable. Did anyone in Washington learn from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac? 

    Once again our generation will receive the repercussions of this administration's failures. The president wants to fight subsidies with subsidies and students are losing. Unfortunately, it seems the Obama administration lacks the common sense to realize that these very subsidies are the root of the price hikes within tuition prices. As prices of education go up, the value of a good education seems to stay the same.

    Living in the Obama administration's economy, a college education does not guarantee success, but it does guarantee debt.

    Hillary Cherry is a Sarah T. Hermann Intern Scholar at Young America's Foundation. 

    • Readers' Comments

    • At times I feel like our generation is good at pointing fingers at everyone else instead of taking the responsibility for some of our failures. The reality is this, there will be jobs after we graduate, and, if there aren't jobs, part of the American Dream is to go make a job for yourself. Instead of having this mindset, our generation sits around and expects everything to be handed to us. I'm going to have college loans in a year and I'm going to suck it up and pay them. I know I'll be able to find a job because if I can't find one I'll make one. America has always been about creating and excelling. Instead of complaining that the job market is nonexistent why not go create jobs with the education we just earned/payed for? Seems to be a reasonable answer in my mind.
      Posted by Chris Hirschy on 06/25/2012
    • Supply side economics shows the rational pitfalls of the author's argument that federal loan subsidization is responsible for tuition increases. There is so much demand for a bachelor's degree (and beyond, increasingly) that universities can charge whatever they want - the UC system has seen record numbers of applicants while cutting overall undergraduate admissions by several thousand per year since the start of the recession. Clearly, there is no dearth of demand, and supply is becoming more expensive, more selective, and more competitive. Cutting loan subsidies won't stymie the thousands and thousands of college applicants seeking enrollment in American schools every year - it will simply skew admissions toward those whose financial backgrounds allow mommy and daddy to pay for tuition. Costs have also inflated due to reduced state spending on higher education across the country - the vast majority of UC tuition increases have been a direct result of a lack of state and federal spending, not due to an inundation of it. Education is increasingly expensive as professor pay, administrative costs, and research costs increase with the global economy's demands. Lowering tuition will come either from ransacking the quality of the American educational system - a process already occurring, as evidenced by UC Berkeley's slipping position in international public education rankings - or come from the sort of subsidies that were provided in the 60's and 70's by the state, which is financially impossible given the current political climate and long-standing measures such as Prop 13. And Chris is on the money. College is expensive. It doesn't guarantee you a job. Hard work is the only thing that will get you that.
      Posted by Max Nied on 06/25/2012
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    • (continued)But it comes down to that it doesn't matter how many kids want to go to colelge, it's how many can afford to go. With no government assistance tuition would have to come down because almost no one can afford it now, no? If government weren't guaranteeing loans for everyone and then colelge tuitions were still going up, then there's a good chance I'd agree with you that it is just because there are more students fighting for the same # of spots.
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