College affordability needs to encompass all students

The number of jobs that require a college degree has increased over the years. The fact that college graduates with a bachelor’s degree earn 66 percent more than those with a high school diploma urges more high school graduates to enroll in colleges. However, the tuition fees continue to rise.

The amount of students who cannot afford college tuition is staggering. According to research done by the Institute of Higher Education Policy, low- and moderate-income (LMI) families who have an annual income of $46,000 or less can only afford one to five percent of colleges in the United States. In 2016, over 40 percent of families in San Gabriel were LMI families which means they relied on financial aid and student loans to afford to go to college.

High tuition prices discourage LMI students from enrolling because they cannot afford it. Despite academic achievement, low-income students with families who make less than $29,000 annually are less likely to enroll and complete college in comparison to other students of higher economic status. This prevents low income families who want their children to have a degree to improve their economic status from enrolling their children in college.

Furthermore, tuition will leave most high school graduates who do not have a college degree penniless. Many college students resort to taking out large amounts of loans and graduate college with it. The students’ inability to pay for their student loans means that it will be paid by people’s taxes. Taxpayers who are already financially struggling because of their student debt or lack of a degree will lose money.

Those against increasing tuition affordability claim that financial aid and scholarships are enough to help those who cannot afford it on their own. However, resources such as the Pell Grant will cover only 30 percent of the cost of a four-year public college education, and scholarships are limited and extremely competitive. Mark Kantrowitz, a nationally-recognized expert on financial aid states that only 0.3 percent of undergraduate students pursuing a bachelor’s degree have won enough money to pay off their tuition.

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