The student news site of Stillwater Area High School

The Pony Express

The student news site of Stillwater Area High School

The Pony Express

The student news site of Stillwater Area High School

The Pony Express

College needs to be more accessible for everyone

Sierra Maatta, Lawrence College Admin Counselor and Alison Brodersen-Schroder College & Career Coordinator, worked together to coordinate a college visit for students. Senior Jerome Vacek and fellow senior Brandon Barrero were given the opportunity to learn more about college. During the visit they received valuable insight, and learned about some of the challenges college can bring.
Photo by Gavin Schuna
Sierra Maatta, Lawrence College Admin Counselor and Alison Brodersen-Schroder College & Career Coordinator, worked together to coordinate a college visit for students. Senior Jerome Vacek and fellow senior Brandon Barrero were given the opportunity to learn more about college. During the visit they received valuable insight, and learned about some of the challenges college can bring.

Every year, high school seniors face the choice of what to do after high school, and consider if they are willing to take on the burden of student debt to attend higher education. Student debt has more than doubled over the last two decades. This did not deter 7,057,980 kids from applying for college last year alone. That was a 30% increase from the 2019-2020 school year. Even with the rising college tuition cost, students still believe, finding and hoping for success by taking the route of a four-year college. 

Starting in 1965, the government organization known as Federal Student Aid or FSA for short, is an organization that provides financial aid for qualified students who chose to attend a FSA accredited school. FSA provided an average of  $10,950 in financial aid per student, after 2011 which was a 110% increase from 2001-2010. Students use FSA to pay for college to relieve some of the debt from rising tuition costs, and the expenses of attending college. 

“Depending on where they go, for example if tuition cost 30k to attend, students should get at least 20k because they still have to pay when you’re there. You still have to pay for food if you are going anywhere and also paying for where you are staying to attend school,” junior Mady Richert said.

The average bachelor’s degree holders salary in the U.S. is $36,000 a year. This is 84% higher than those whose highest degree of education is a high school diploma. As a result bachelor degree holders earn $1 million more in there lifetime of work, in whatever field they choose post college. This proves the positive impact of choosing higher education.

Usually even some of the simpler jobs require a four year education now so it’ll give more opportunities. Instead of a lower level job. that might not pay as much, also you will be more certified and prepared for your field of work.

— Netta Hillegass

Junior Netta Hillegass shared her thoughts about the advantages that college can bring to the real world, and just how powerful the experience can be to your future.

“Usually even some of the simpler jobs require a four year education now so it’ll give more opportunities. Instead of a lower level job that might not pay as much, you will be more certified and prepared for your field of work,” Hillegass said.

The average student loan debt after college is $37,388 per borrower for a four year public degree holder. It is $54,121 for a four year private tuition bachelor’s degree, in post-collage student loan debt. Straight out of college, the average student takes 21 years to pay off this debt. As rising tuition costs do not help this amount of time it takes to pay off debt either. This excludes your technical colleges or trade schools as their average tuition cost is $10,000 a year. 

Senior Paige Van Duyne explained how she has first hand seen the impacts of college as it has reflected on her mom’s job. Just last year, Van Duyne’s mom went back and finished college online for 2 years, and later received a higher college degree, now she earns significantly more money then she did with a lower level of education. 

Since 1963, the average college inflation rate at a public institution is an 8% increase each year from 1963 to now in 2023. Compared to a private school tuition that is just about the same rate at 9% a year for most of your institutions, where the average price of college was $4,300 a year in 1963 and in 2023 the average was $39,400 a year. This data shows just the impact over time of the cost of a higher education. In addition, it presents how much value that a college can hold even since 1963 as college tuition has more than tripled. As people still strive for greatness, by going through a public or private institution of higher education, in hope of finding that successful career path. 

The majority of students believe that college is still a great path to go down if it is right for them, meaning that it will be beneficial for their future education journey and take another step in finding their future career pathways. Students still value the post education route, but believe that tuition prices need to lower to be more affordable and accessible to everyone. Regardless of the financial situation.

The U.S. Department of Education and the local governing bodies around the country need to put the future first. By lowering college debt and joining the 11 states that have passed policies to freeze and cap college tuition at four year colleges.

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About the Contributors
Gavin Schuna, Business Editor
My name is Gavin Schuna, and I am a junior business editor. I play hockey and tennis and one of my favorite hobbies is pickleball. I enjoy going on the river and hanging out with friends. I am most looking forward to writing about sports this year.  

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