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Graduation rate decreases while college debt increases

With increasing tuition college students are financially on their own

By Ariana Johnson

June 14, 2012

Graduating from college is a very momentous occasion in our lives. It is a time, when we take everything that we have learned from professors and translate it into actual a career that eventually helps realizing the American Dream. However, for the average college student the American dream has become elusive because graduates are drowning in tuition debt.

According to a study reported on PBS, between the years of 1985 to 2005 the average cost of tuition and expenses for college has increased by more than 400 percent. The issue of student tuition debt has been a major topic of debate between President Obama and Mitt Romney, the republican candidate on the campaign trail.

Tuiton rates makes students second guess about collegeLast year President Obama announced a new plan to manage student debt at a speech he gave at the University of Colorado. According to his plan students who have both direct federal loans and government backed private loans would be able to solidify the loans with a 0.5 percent decrease in their interest rate. The plan will also allow students to pay 15 percent of their monthly income and have their loans forgiven after 25 years.

The plans goal is to lower the bar to 10 percent of needed income with loan forgiveness after 20 years. Even though earlier this plan was scheduled to go into effect in 2014, now the administration wants it to go into effect in 2012 and wants Congress to pass it.

“How many people can afford to pay an extra $1,000 when you’re a student just because congress can’t get its act together,” President Obama said. “This is a no- brainer, get it done”.

Presidential candidate Mitt Romney has also proposed his “A Chance For Every Child” plan for addressing the national challenges in the area of education. Romney’s education plan consists of allowing low income and special needs students to choose which school to attend, provide incentives for states to increase choices for parents and develop quality, build on the success of effective charter and digital schools and to expand the DC opportunity scholarship programs to serve as a model for the nation.

However, when it comes to college students, Mitt Romney only commiserates on the financial problems that the average college student deals with every day. The plan only emphasizes on the many negative financial statistics. According to U.S Department of Labor, 62 percent of all U.S. jobs now require post secondary education. That number is expected to increase to 75 percent by 2020. The education plan also says that even though the U.S. has strongly encouraged students graduating from high school to go to college, many students enter college but do not graduate. Only about 27 percent of community college students and 57 percent of those pursuing bachelors degrees will finish within three or six years respectively. These statistics are even lower for minority students.

Taken all of this information into consideration, I can’t help but not to wonder if college will be even an option for the next generation of high school students. Will college only be a remote possibility for a small percentage of students who come from families of financial influence and political connections?

One thing that I learned from Presidential Candidate Romney’s ” A Chance for Every Child” education plan is that he is telling the truth that in the decades to come it will be difficult for anyone to go out into the workforce without at least a college degree, but little help will be coming from the federal government. That is why we as college students will be on our own and will need to explore other resources to help us through our four years of college.

I think, the first thing that a student should do, preferably a high school senior, is to should go to their counselor and research scholarships and research grants. There are plenty of resources for scholarships and grants for which a student does not have to have a 4.99 GPA to receive them. Many scholarships only have a 2.5 GPA requirement. Some scholarships do not have a GPA requirement. Some people get a scholarship for just being left- handed.

The point is that college students have to graduate from college in order to get to help our families, friends, loved ones, and last but not the least impact the world. I agree with President Obama’s plan. Romney’s “A Chance for Every Child” does not do anything to help the lives of future college students. However, with limited number of scholarships without financial assistance to pay off college loans and debt there will no opportunities for many students even to think about going to college.