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The Panther Perspective

Tuition Too High?

Tanner Hardcastle, Writer

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In recent years, the price of college has been a somewhat hot topic in the media and in the public eye. Many people are content, believing that college tuition rates are just fine. A number of these people would proclaim the millennial generation ‘entitled’, for believing that college should be more affordable. To the contrary, a surfeit of people, including myself, personally believe that the price of college is absolutely outrageous as well as completely unwarranted to say the least.Studies show that “Two-thirds of American college students graduate with college debt, and that debt now tops $1.2 trillion. College is now more expensive than it has ever been, making it out of reach of not only poor Americans, but even middle class ones. While reforms made in the past few years may have helped slow the growth of college costs, they continue to outpace Americans’ ability to pay.” Here is another chilling fact about college tuition, “In 1971 the tuition for a public 4-year college was $428 ($2,456 adjusted for inflation) per year. By 2012 tuition had risen to $8,646 ($8,816 adjusted for inflation) per year, a 1,920% (259% for inflation-adjusted numbers) increase.”
I, for one, have heard many accounts from family and community members, stating that when they were younger, they could work a minimum wage job and put themselves through college. Sadly, nowadays this simply just is not realistic. This is because, in 1971, the federal minimum was $2.10, and while this may not sound like a lot, when accounting  for inflation, this amount of currency is now worth $12.53 today. In 2016, the federal minimum wage is 7.25, a huge factor as to why working yourself through college simply isn’t viable in today’s society. Not only has minimum wage decreased(with inflation accounted for), but college tuition prices are now exorbitant to say the least, especially when compared to college tuition rates in previous generations. With inflation accounted for, the average 4 year college tuition cost in 1971 was $2,554.57. Compare this to even just 2012, when accounting for inflation yet again, the average four year college tuition cost was $9102.98. The average four year college tuition for each recent generation goes as such: Generation X (1971): $10,218.28 – Millennial (1992): $16,085.40 – Generation Z (2012): $36,411.92 That’s a 57% increase in between Generation X and the Millennial generation, and 126% increase between the Millennial generation and Generation Z. In total, from Generation X to Generation Z, we see the total increase of college tuition rate at 256%. The rates shown here are absurd, and with a lower average median income than in previous generations, especially after considering  college was only 7% of the average annual income compared to today’s 26%, it is apparent that education is more expensive than ever.

America is falling behind other countries by a disconcerting distance when it comes to education affordability. Actually, “Germany is the polar opposite to the United States in terms of costs of higher education. Germany’s higher education system is entirely publicly funded and its 2.4 million students pay absolutely nothing in tuition fees… These countries aren’t alone in having free higher education. Over 40 countries around the world offer free post-secondary education, including: Argentina, Denmark, Greece, Kenya, Morocco, Egypt, Uruguay, Scotland and Turkey.” It would seem that many other countries and governments around the world have great systems in place to provide affordable education, but sadly America has fallen behind in this aspect. It comes to us, the newer, more entitled generation, to pick up the tab and pay for something we did not create. To me, this extravagant increase in college tuition rates within the past 30 years is a downright palpable display of greed and avarice. The voracious men and women of the previous generations show incomparable signs of selfishness and utter bigotry. So it is up to the newer generation to set aside greed, and strive to be true philanthropists, to truly care for the people around us and to truly care for a better future for our forthcoming generations. Idealistic and unrealistic, I know, but I do still have faith in humanity. I hope to one day see lower tuition rates, as well as a substantial lower rate of greedy humans who would deprive those of destitution a higher education and pathway to a better life.

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The student news site of Woodland Park High School
Tuition Too High?