College Unaffordable? Say It Ain’t So

By Patrick Barron, Opinion Writer

Millions of students are in the midst of another busy semester hustling to secure jobs, networking, or even going after the coveted internship position. For many, we unfortunately ask ourselves: How will I finance my education? The high costs associated with a college degree marginalize a segment of the population, denying some minorities and/or those of lower income opportunities to life changing degrees.

No doubt, the United States higher education system is admirable, but its primary detractor is the high cost for countless students who want to obtain a degree. Students should not fear pursuing their education on the basis of cost. However, it is increasingly so as they face seemingly insurmountable amount of debt when matriculation occurs whose effects lingers far after graduation.

Furthermore, the issues associated with the high rise of a college education extend into both a race and class conversation too, since the apple is not too far from the tree. Well-documented in various academic studies and online publications is the high cost of college. The Atlantic indicated “as many as 95 percent of schools are out of reach for low-income students.”

Those numbers originating from the nonprofit Institute for Higher Education Policy are alarming and advocates of affordable colleges can use their research to bolster their arguments as they fight for affordable colleges.

As reported by the United States Census Bureau, the 2016 median U.S. income in the United States was $59,000. Not to mention, there are huge discrepancies unveiled when further exploring the origin of the number. For instance, White, Black, Asian, and Hispanic (any race) had median incomes of $60,349, $39,950, $81,431 and $47,675 respectively. A rocket scientist is not necessary in deciphering who can generally afford college.

With this in mind College Board, a not-for-profit educational organization detailed the average published yearly tuition and fees of colleges can range from $3,440 (Public Two-Year College in-district students) to $9,410 (Public Four-Year College in-state students) through $32,410 (Private Four-Year College). In effect the cost of college can deter students of lower social-economic backgrounds from applying. We pride themselves in promoting social mobility, but if access to college is limited to the few, who really benefits from it? The use of scholarships and other funds can mitigate for some, but not all of the costs of college; as a result, student loan debt has ballooned.

To point out, CNBC noted that “Over the last decade, college-loan balances in the United States have jumped more than $833 billion to reach an all-time high of $1.4 trillion, according to a recent report by Experian.” Of course, an economic crisis could stem from these loans and its result could be cataclysmic mirroring the devastating Great Recession.

All things considered, I could not and will not fault individuals upset at the cost of college as it nears exorbitant for many Americans, albeit there are loan companies who profit from students swallowing massive loans to subsidize their education.

Now, devising solutions to counter escalating college costs is not a Herculean task, but requires both the members of higher institutions and the government to effectively tackle the issue. On the one hand, members of higher institutions shoulder responsibility as they have rapidly increased the cost of college. On the other hand, I would be remiss not to suggest that the government failed to seriously address the concerns of students who a good number are recipient of federal loans contributed to the current crisis affecting their lives.

I urge those who care about soaring college costs to reach out to their representatives in Congress and disclose their frustration; do it before it is too late.


A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, September 26th print edition.

Contact Patrick at

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