The Price of Success

Photo from Steve Jurveston via Flickr under Creative Commons license

Photo from Steve Jurveston via Flickr under Creative Commons license

The recent events of President Obama’s Higher Education Bill, an opportunity to make college more accessible and affordable for all American families, has raised the discussion as to whether higher education is actually attainable.

The education bill has been broken down into four parts: helping middle class families afford college, strengthening community colleges, keeping cost down, and improving transparency and accountability.

According to the White House website, tuition and fees have greatly increased over the past decade, making it more difficult for many Americans to invest in a higher education for their future. In 1990, the United States was ranked first in the world in four-year degree attainment among 25-23 year olds; today, the U.S. ranks 12th.

Now, most Americans are left to decide whether college is worth the financial burden it carries.

A college that cost $20,000 in tuition five years ago now costs $40,000. College has become a booming business with a steady income that does not seem to be dropping anytime soon. The supply and demand for college education increases with every job that requires a final degree.

Even with financial loans and grants, the price that comes with a “brighter” future is out of reach for many Americans. A young adult completing his final year of college will graduate with a debt that will take a large majority of his adult life to pay off.

Instead of starting the next chapter of their lives with a clean slate, students will be stuck with a financial burden weighing them down.

According to Forbes, student debt has reached the $1 trillion mark. Not only are colleges getting less support, but they are also forcing millions of students into debt as well.

College degrees have become a necessity for many American hoping to achieve a stable lifestyle. The fact that four-year college graduates make $55,000 on average per year, while postgraduates and those with master’s degrees and PhDs earn $65,000 and more per year, proves that education correlates directly with wealth over time.

Education is the basis of our country. It provides many people with the hope for a new life, a better job, and a stable environment; yet it also seems to apply disappointment to those without the means to achieve it.

As we look back at President Obama’s Higher Education Bill, it’s tough to tell whether it will solve problems or cause an even bigger mess. There is no avoiding it—it seems that through the growing supply and demand of college degrees, even with the inflated prices, Americans will still put forth the money to guarantee a better life.

It may not be fair; it may not be right, but if success is what we are after, than the price of higher education is what we have to be willing to pay.