Less than a decade ago, finding several thousand dollars for a decent degree at an average university wasn’t uncommon, if not implied, among even the most modest of family incomes.
There weren’t any hoops to jump through. The routine was that the money thrown in that direction would reciprocate itself in the long run, exponentially outgrowing whatever amount came from the bank to cover it at the time. A loan here and there wasn’t exactly a rarity, but it certainly wasn’t the sort of thing you’d mold your retirement around. If you had to get one, you got one, and you’d pay it off later.
Nowadays, things aren’t so convenient. The new norm is not only the sort of loan that exceeds the amount of money required to attend the university in question. It’s one that requires its borrowers to graduate with a good enough degree, acquire a good enough job, and pay it off in the long run. And that’s a pretty unpredictable possibility.
This means financing college is becoming less of an effort designated solely to the student. Struggling students are finding it harder to zip through their four years on the fly, and in lieu of a co-sign, the mere notion of a student acquiring the documentation that’ll enable them to qualify for the big loan — assuming that they’re even in the eligible tax bracket — is an inconceivable one. Meaning said co-sign is exactly what they’ll try to get, which means the parents have to pay for college all over again.
It puts the mountain of money on an extra set of shoulders. There was a point at which a parent might make it their obligation to put their child through school, regardless of the obstacles before them, but those incidents are becoming scarcer.
How many of us are attending this university, not because we wanted to, but because it’s the cheapest item on the shelf? In the best-case scenario, the answer is “not many,” but even one person is too many.
Every decision that students make, from high-school graduation to tomorrow’s grocery list, are effects of the high costs of modern-day universities. There’s no more leeway, and it seems to only be getting worse.
The fact that high tuition and student debt is the new normal is ridiculous, and it’s time we fix it before things get more dangerous.
Bryan Washington is a sociology sophomore and may be reached at email@example.com.