Thursday, September 10, 2009
The Cost of Education in Tough Times
By Alma Zhumagulova
As an international student I was first very amazed by how people in the US go to such expensive colleges and universities. In Kazakhstan, where I come from, average tuition is about $3,000-4,000 per year. Of course, the tuition level is based on the income level of the population, which is much lower in Kazakhstan. However, in my culture it is not widespread to borrow money for education that one obviously cannot afford, while it is a common practice in the US. This is due to the fact that American people are in general very confident and optimistic about their future, which is an extremely helpful trait, the one that makes the US one of the leading countries in the world. On the other hand this is the trait that got the American people into so much debt. About two-thirds of American students take out student loans which accumulate to an average of $23,186 by their graduation (Chaker, A.M.) and last academic year amounted to $75 billion in federal loans (Cornatzer, M.). Aside from the loans students have credit cards, about 4.6 per student on average according to Sallie Mae (Buck, C.). All this financial pressure affects students’ lives in various ways. 75-85% of American teenagers stress about paying for their education as it was found in the survey by Bank of America and Seventeen magazine (Buck, .). However, this is nothing compared to the problems these students will face after the graduation. “In a 2006 survey of 1,508 graduates under age 35, 39% of college graduates say it will take them more than 10 years to pay off their household's education-related debt” (Chaker, A.M.). This in turn affects the natural progression of life of these graduates. Some say they postpone the purchase of their own home; others delay their marriage and having kids (Chaker, A.M.). However, not going to college at all or dropping out of school is not an answer to these problems. In order to maximize one's career opportunities while avoiding long-term financial effects, one has to balance and plan ahead, e.g. go to a public school instead of a private, search for more funding, work part-time, and make a strict budget and stick to it. In other words, where there is a will, there is a way!
BUCK, C. Saving on college expenses gets priority now. Mcclatchy Newspapers
CHAKER, A.M. Students Borrow More Than Ever for College. The Wall Street Journal.
CORNATZER, M. 529 ways to pay for college. The Newsobserver.