By ALEXANDRA ROESCH
In 2017, the estimated student loan debt was 1.5 trillion dollars. Imagine working all throughout the day in class to forge a future for yourself and all through the night to keep a steady income. At the other side of the long, arduous path known as college, you emerge to be immediately crushed by $15,510 of debt and forced into constant labor. This helplessness plaguing college students could be solved in a multitude of ways, such as offering free public education for college-level students.
The U.S. should implement a system of free public colleges because everyone deserves an equal shot at an education. Whether or not everyone takes advantage of the opportunity, the choice should be a viable option to all socioeconomic levels. Additionally, a well-informed community could make more educated decisions and affect more positive change in the workforce by helping the country progress.
The government could pay for free public colleges by implementing one or more of the following methods. They could increase taxes for wealthy Americans, limit military spending, or crack down on wasteful government spending—delegating funds already raised.
No, this is not some far-fetched, alien idea. Many countries, including Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Norway, the Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Sweden, Turkey, and Poland, have free higher education systems. Students still graduate with student loans, but in comparison to the amount of student loans in America, their systems seem promising. According to Trade Schools, Colleges and Universities, the average student loan debt is approximately $1,200 in Finland and is mostly used for living expenses while in school. Norway’s approximate student loan debt is $9,381. While still decent chunks of money, they are significantly less than the American student loan debt average, which stands at $15,510.
While the prospect of having free public colleges in America seems ideal, there are a number of drawbacks. To implement such a huge program right away in America would strain public budgets and limit the money available for other government fees. It would also cause schools to expand waitlists because of the growing amount of students applying to more and more colleges. Even though the education itself would be free, students would still take out loans for things like living expenses and separate costs for school such as materials and textbooks. Additionally, not having to deal with payments for college could affect students’ ability to learn how “to become as financially literate or independent as they should be,” according to Trade Schools, Colleges and Universities.
A middle ground could be reached by implementing a new system such as an income-based repayment program. This would allow students to pay back their debts over time and in a less stressful manner. This system is already in place in countries like the U.K. and seems to be functioning smoothly.
Student loan debt has been a massive problem preventing college students from freely living their lives for a long time. After a long hard-fought push through college education, young adults need to start living their lives and impacting the world. With absurd amounts of money serving as a giant roadblock on the highway of success, college graduates are unable to create lives for themselves until much later on. A new system of income-based repayment could pave the way for people to clear student debt and progress their lives. Instead of punishing the youth of today, we need to push forward the pioneers of tomorrow.