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Higher education should be affordable for all students

by Ben Sever,

The days are gone when people get what they deserve. Money has become such a deciding factor in every aspect of life that it is almost the sole purpose of our existence. Education should be infinitely accessible because knowledge is the key to improving the world.

The cost of higher education is not only causing financial problems for students, but it is making students shy away from their desired college of choice.

It is a depressing thought that a number of kids in modern society work hard in high school, stress out while applying to tough colleges, feel the enjoyment of receiving acceptance letters, but have to settle for going to their in-state school because it is the cheapest option.

To be fair, the saying "college is what you make of it" is partially true, but it is not fair to rob hard workers of their desired college because of financial limitations.

College is generally a turning point in young adults' careers when they want to branch out and become more independent. Being limited to colleges near their homes can hinder the maturation process.

State funding to public colleges needs to increase to fix a whirlwind of financial problems, among other issues.

The majority of college- bound students opt toward going to public schools because they are cheaper than private schools.

But public schools are now getting to be just as expensive.

The lack of funding is causing students to be in serious debt to loan agencies. This is because colleges have no choice but to raise tuition to compensate for the lack of funding.

The cost of college tuition in the U.S. has become a major roadblock in students' pursuit of a higher education.

It is no secret that elite college education is very expensive and favors the wealthy while exerting sub- par attempts to help the less fortunate with financial aid.

One would think that government funding would at least proportionally stay on track with the increasing amount of enrolled students. State funding has actually decreased, causing tuition inflation.

Funding has decreased annually in public schools, which is forcing tuition to skyrocket. In the past year, tuition in public universities has increased by 8.3 percent.

Eighty percent of students that seek a higher education attend public colleges, and are thus impacted by this tuition rise.

Addressing the cost of private schools is an even bigger task to tackle. They are not funded by the state and have a lot more freedom, ultimately making it harder to find a solution to the problem.

A quick solution would be for the government to pass a law stating that if a school wants to be private, it has to increase its number of scholarships to a certain margin while maintaining its current tuition costs.

Private schools tend to spend an unnecessary amount of money on making their campuses more aesthetically pleasing, when that money could be used for financial aid.

For example, Elon University's campus is a certified botanical garden, and a large amount of money and manpower goes into keeping the campus looking pristine.

Instead of buying and frequently replacing plants, that money could be spent aiding financially struggling students.

This is just one example of reallocating funds to improve students' situations who have the drive to gain a higher education.

There are many perspectives one can take to make college more affordable.

President Barack Obama's administration has instituted the "Pay as you Earn" plan, which will allow about 1.6 million students the ability to cap their loan payments at 10 percent of their discretionary income starting next year.

Also, the plan will forgive the balance of their debt after 20 years of payments.

Starting this January, an estimated six million students and recent college graduates will be able to consolidate their loans and reduce their interest rates. Leaders such as Obama are the start of the solution.

His influence will hopefully spark leadership in others and promote campaigns to help this cause.

His determination is very inspiring to the American people and is evident in his recently released statement:

"In a global economy, putting a college education within reach for every American has never been more important, but it's also never been more expensive.

"That's why today we're taking steps to help nearly 1.6 million Americans lower their monthly student loan payments.

"Steps like these won't take the place of the bold action we need from Congress to boost our economy and create jobs, but they will make a difference. And until Congress does
act, I will continue to do everything in my power to act on behalf of the American people."

In the current tough economic state the U.S. is facing, the goal of making education cheaper is an idealistic and a gradual process.

But, with the support of influential figures, states and the general public, affordable education has the potential to become a reality.