Since 1980, the cost of both public and private four-year colleges has nearly tripled, even after accounting for inflation. Students from around the country struggle to pay for their tuition and are often drowning in debt when they graduate.
For me, my college tuition has played a part in every decision I have made in the last three years. Choosing to go out-of-state for college was one of the hardest decisions I had to make and ultimately will cost me more than any tiny piece of paper is worth, in my opinion.
However, once I decided to come to IU, my questioning of whether it was worth it or not didn’t stop.
I fought with myself repeatedly, trying to decide if my money was being well spent and if my degree was even worth it.
I knew I had a plan if I decided to drop out, and I felt like I would be okay — especially considering I wouldn’t have to pay off almost $200,000 in loans.
Yes, that number isn’t exaggerated. In my first two years of college, I accumulated almost $75,000 in debt. I was lucky to receive scholarships for my junior year and am continuing to work incredibly hard for more for my senior year.
However, many out-of-state students struggle to get any scholarships and are often left to pay their tuition in full.
For students like me, going into a low-paying career field like journalism, the hope of paying that off feels hopeless.
Back in August of 2022, the Biden Administration announced its three-part plan for student debt relief. The plan aimed to address the ever-growing burden of college costs and to make the student loan system more manageable for working families.
In June of this year, the Supreme Court blocked the relief plan, saying the Biden Administration lacked the authorization under the HEROES Act to forgive $20,000 per borrower.
Almost 43 million borrowers won’t see a cent of the debt relief money promised to them last year.
The cost of living is at a 25-year high right now. People around the world are struggling to pay rent, find a job and pay for groceries. Students are struggling to meet the necessities of life, yet a large group of 18- to 25-year-olds are taking on a massive debt that will take them years to pay off.
While I was abroad in Europe this summer, I got into many conversations with people in my hostels about the differences between their countries and the United States. The one that stood out to me was with a man from England.
He told me that in the U.K., they pay a maximum of around 9,000 pounds ($13,000). However, some students in the U.K. are given Maintenace grants for low-income families, and the rest can be paid in loans that are deferred until graduation.
He told me he was graduating with his four-year degree with only about 1,500 pounds ($1,800) to pay back. The average U.K. student is graduating with around 45,000 pounds in debt, while the average American is graduating with around $71,000 in debt.
This absolutely astounded me. Comparing this to me, with $75,000 loans that are accruing interest as we speak, and I am only halfway through my degree, that made me completely rethink going back to college.
The student debt crisis has gotten out of hand.
Students all over the country are going through the same struggle as I am daily. Sitting and questioning whether finishing their degree is worth it. Trying to figure out what they are going to do in order to pay off this debt.
Some might be dreaming of going to graduate school but know they could never afford it. Some may have changed their major because they thought they would never survive off their dream job's salary.
Students shouldn’t have to decide between their dreams and their livelihood. They shouldn’t have to decide whether to buy groceries this week or to pay off parts of their debt.
Students are drowning, and there is no relief in sight.
Gentry Keener (she/her) is a junior studying journalism and political science.