By: Abby Ferry
The Tower (Grosse Pointe, Michigan)
The first thing on most seniors’ minds at this time of year most likely has something to do with college–be it applications or anticipation of admissions decisions, college is a constant topic of discussion.
After turning in applications, however, the process is not over. Families are in charge of filling out CSS and FAFSA profiles to qualify for scholarships and federal financial aid, facilitated through Financial Aid Night..
Financial Aid Night provides an opportunity for students and families to learn more about this process and the steps toward attaining money to offset the insurmountable costs of tuition.
The need for college financial aid has grown exponentially, as the cost of a college degree has increased by over 1,120 percent in the past 30 years, according to The Huffington Post. As the price has increased, so has the importance of obtaining a college degree to find success in the work force.
Obtaining a college degree is often a necessary step in trying to find a job, with approximately 65 percent of jobs requiring some form of higher education, according to research done by Georgetown University. As the necessity of getting a degree is increasing, so is the number of people pursuing one.
Over 65.9 percent of high school graduates in the high school Class of 2015 went on to a college or university. With the majority of students going on to pursue a college degree, something must be done to make it more accessible financially. For the 2014-2015 academic school year, in-state tuition for public colleges averaged $23,410, and tuition at private universities averaged $46,272, according to a survey conducted by the College Board.
There is extreme pressure for high school graduates to attend college with the ever-competitive job market. Though things like financial aid help lessen the burden caused by hefty tuition, it is simply not possible for many people
This pressure is felt locally, as well. According to the US Census Bureau, approximately 69.8 percent of Grosse Pointe citizens aged 25 and older have received a Bachelor’s degree or higher, compared to 25.9 percent in the state of Michigan. A college education is a valuedprevalent aspectpart of the Grosse Pointe community, with atypical pressure put on high school students to pursue higher education.
Additionally, many students in Grosse Pointe face a unique problem when it comes to applying for financial aid. There is a common misconception that families above a certain income threshold will not qualify for aid. Median household income in Grosse Pointe is $99,698 compared to $48,411 in the state of Michigan and $51,939 nationwide.
However, college tuition is still a major portion of a family’s income, even with federal aid and scholarships. It is simply unreasonable to expect students and families to be able to afford a college education.
The price of college has a powerful impact on students even after they graduate, with the average graduate of the college Class of 2015 having over $35,051 in student loan debt. Comparatively, the average starting salary for students graduating with a Bachelor’s degree is $45,478, according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers. Because debts are so significant, it takes the average bachelor’s degree holder 21 years to pay off their student loans.
It comes to a point where it must be asked if a college education is even worth the financial burden it causes. Germany recently eliminated tuition because they believed that charging students $1,300 per year was discouraging Germans from going to college. If $1,300 is discouraging people from attending college, there is no telling the impact tuition in the US has prospective students.
Since it is not possible to completely eliminate all tuition right now, financial aid is an important step to lessening the burden placed on families by the mammoth costs of a modern collegiate education.
Image Credit: Abby Ferry