The perpetual burden of student debt

STAR // Gustavo Vasquez

Hard work and dedication used to be all one needed to succeed in the world of higher education. 

Nowadays, college is becoming increasingly inaccessible—is this sign of the times or something changing within American culture that doesn’t support the academic pursuits of young people? Tuition costs in the California State University have more than doubled since 2005, an obvious indication that college is becoming less accessible to students in California. 

Education is a basic right all young people should have access to no matter one’s socioeconomic status or family background. Unfortunately, this is not the case for the current generation of college students. 

The cost of higher education is eliminating people who may not have the needed financial resources to attend college, which is reflective of the changing world of higher education. 

The California State University is considered one of the most affordable educational systems in the U.S. But is college in California really affordable when the cost of attendance—no matter how affordable—prevents so many people from attending?

According to the Wall Street Journal, student debt in the U.S. has more than tripled in the last decade with the number most recently surpassing $1.2 trillion nationwide. 

In August, Democratic Presidential Candidate Hillary Clinton spoke out on the concept of debt-free tuition at public universities—something that is unimaginable to many current college students. 

Clinton’s plan would cost an estimated $350 million over the next 10 years, according to the Wall Street Journal. 

As students at a public university in California, graduating college with thousands of dollars of debt is inexcusable. 

College is supposed to be a time when students can expand their minds and focus solely on learning. Students shouldn’t have to worry about how to pay tuition or rent—which is all too common for college students of this generation. 

The stress of money and finances is a reality for the average student at Sonoma State University—a stress that sometimes overtakes lives and makes one forget about why they’re in college. The tuition cost of attending Sonoma State in 2005, a mere decade ago, was $2,520 and for this academic year the cost is $5,472, a clear example of the rising costs of college throughout the year. 

Tuition is not the only price of attending Sonoma State. In addition to basic tuition, students pay an extra $929 categorized as campus-based fees, a number that varies at each CSU campus.    

It’s easy to simply talk about why college should be cheaper and more accessible, but is it realistic to picture a world where college is attainable no matter one’s financial state? Maybe not—but it can’t hurt to encourage lawmakers and university leaders to make a change when it comes to the cost of higher education.  

The world of higher education is flawed in terms of cost, but does a high cost increase the value of a college degree in terms of its worth? 

The answer is yes, but the degree’s value still doesn’t make up for the fact that some students’ may spend the rest of their lives in debt.