Graduation is the culmination of years of hard work in order to build a brighter future for yourself and society. It truly is “the first day of the rest of your life.” The problem is that first day of the rest of your life often means your first day of paying off a mountain of student loan debt.
The average four-year college student averages $20,000 in student loan debt, not counting what the parents might have borrowed. This generation has been called “generation debt.” A negative impact of the increasing debt of this generation goes beyond just the student borrowers; it also has a ripple effect across our economy. Graduates struggle just to make it after college while our future students increasingly find a college education out of reach.
There is plenty of blame to go around as to why college education is so expensive. Federal investments have declined in programs like Pell grants which means students must borrow more. Student loan interest rates have risen because of the housing crisis. Here in Missouri, we are 47th in investing in higher education correlating with higher tuition. The selling of MOHELA assets has exacerbated the credit crunch for students. Students should be our priority rather than building empty new buildings.
Our society, families and economy depend on the renewal that education brings. We must make funding for education a priority in this country and state in order to keep the door open to the American dream. Because we all benefit from the fruits of education, we all have the responsibility to nurture education.