College tuition is too damn high

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In the United States of America, we spend more to attend college than nearly any other country, with total student debt nearing $1.5 trillion. As high school students, we are forced to choose between missing out on our dream college education, or being swamped with insurmountable student loan debt. This is especially true at Townsend Harris, where year after year students are admitted to some of the top schools in the country, which often happen to be some of the most expensive. It is inexcusable that the wealthiest country in the world should lag so far behind other nations in terms of education. We need a solution that will give our students the best chance to succeed in the future, regardless of their background: that solution is to make 4-year public college tuition free.

There are 44.7 million student loan borrowers in the United States today, and the class of 2017 already owes an average of $28,650. The ridiculous amount of student debt in the country continues to grow, as enormous interest rates make the debt seemingly never-ending. As a result, these loans can take decades to pay off, and can pile up, making success after college difficult by limiting financial stability and weighing people down for years. 

Instead of developing the brightest minds to succeed in their respective fields and contribute to the U.S. economy, the ridiculous price of college rather hinders our nation’s progress in various fields. The cost of college drags down the economy by discouraging students from pursuing the degrees needed to contribute to some of the most important and fastest growing fields in the county. Student debt itself can also create a stressful environment for employees entering the workforce out of college, limiting productivity by shifting their attention from succeeding at work to paying off their debt.

Furthermore, the exorbitant price of college in the United States perpetuates the inequalities that plague this country. Part of the “American Dream” is that if one works hard enough, they can follow their dreams and become successful. It’s a dream that Townsend Harris students know well, as many of us have parents and grandparents who came here for precisely that opportunity. However, it is nearly impossible for Americans to reach where they want to be in life without enough money to afford the very opportunities that will propel them there. In terms of college, students who come from poor or even middle-class backgrounds have an extremely hard time affording the education they need to follow their dreams. As a result, students who come from wealthy families can afford to make a living and maintain that wealth, while less affluent students are often unable to work their way up and are destined to miss out on the future they hoped for because of factors completely out of their control. If we made public college tuition free, every student would have an equal opportunity to get the education they need, regardless of their background. This is the change that can finally rejuvenate the “American Dream.”

Applying to colleges can be a very stressful time for Townsend Harris students. On top of the studying, test taking, essay writing, and preparation needed during the college application process, students today are faced with the unnecessary burden of worrying if they can even afford to attend the schools they are spending so much time applying to. The cost of college in the United States today is an injustice, and forces kids to make difficult decisions that will follow them for the rest of their lives. We can no longer accept a process in which students have to sacrifice their childhood to save money for their future. We the students of the United States of America must stand up and demand that public colleges are made tuition free.

Photo by Min Hyeok Shin, Photography Editor.