We are paying too much

Jonathan Rowland
senior from
Jonesboro, Ill.

In today’s environment of crashing markets and slashed financial ratings I begin to grow tiresome and disillusioned by the same monotonous rhetoric of how we must act now so that future generations can participate in the American dream.

Every time I hear this quote on TV debates I cringe, every time I read this in the newspapers I sigh. For I feel like the greatest hindrance to our generation’s prosperity is constantly ignored in politics, media and society as a whole. This roadblock to prosperity that I am alluding to is the massive never before seen amount of debt that our college graduates graduate with.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the average college student who uses financial aid, which is 66.8 percent of the entire U.S. student population, will graduate in 2012 owing $33,247. Collectively, 2012 US graduates owe more than $70 billion in student loans! ($70,644,321,760 to be exact). Overall, the entire amount of un-paid student debt counting both private and federal loans has almost reached $1 trillion.

In fact, total student loan debt outstanding exceeded total credit card debt outstanding for the first time in June 2010. The prosperity of this country rests on the backs of middle to high income earners who are represented largely by persons with college degrees, to handicap this upcoming generation of earners with such a large debt is to handicap the idea of the “American dream” and our nation’s recovery. So what can be done?

How can and should we address this impending disaster? Well for a start, it’s time for our political leaders, media and society to quit ignoring and begin discussing how to deal with this problem before it becomes a permanent fixture upon our generation.

One possible solution that needs to be discussed is the increase of direct and indirect forms of educational subsidization by federal, state and private entities. Where federal budgets see cost, I see investment. Where state programs see numbers, I see opportunity. Where private enterprise sees expenses, I see incentive. It’s time that our nation’s public and private institutions begin thinking in this manner.

By receiving a higher education and learning specialized skills, we as college graduates are very productive to society both publicly and privately. We fill the public offices and private offices, we are the inventors and the innovators, and we are the CEOs and leaders of NGOs. Yet for all of this opportunity and prosperity we bring to the table, many university students are forced into the dregs of poverty to attain the tools in which to become such a productive force.

Yes, we are somewhat compensated by being able to receive higher paying jobs than people without college diplomas. However the benefit we give to public and private spheres far out-weighs the benefits that we receive. Many governments and societies besides our own have came to the same conclusion as I have.

They realize that by paying now they gain later. It’s time our own government and society begin to look toward this idea of the “long term” gain for inspiration.

Does this mean the average American paying higher taxes? Yes. Does this mean that corporations and the top 1 percent should give more? Hell yes. But no matter what echelon of the class scale we believe ourselves to be a part of one thing remains the same.

Our nation’s economy, prosperity, and stability relies upon a solid middle to upper class that is increasingly staffed by college graduates. If we all continue to ignore this crushing debt that college graduates inherit. Then every single one of us, graduate or not, will pay the price.