With tuition rising yearly, and students facing the challenge of paying the debt achieving a college degree comes with. ‘Student debt surpassed credit-card debt in June 2010 for the first time in history, rising to about $830 billion — or nearly 6% of the nation’s annual economic output.'(Clemmitt, Marcia). Not everybody has a ton of money laying around. Since financial trouble is the biggest problem for students, they begin to question whether college is worth it or not. Recently, students have taken out loans to help with expenses. Most students choose to attend a community and junior college to help reduce debt. Even after graduating with a degree, students still face the struggle of finding a job in this economic time. For higher class families this may not be a problem. However, the middle class and low-income families, face tougher times because they don’t have the financial help as higher-class families do. For middle-class and low-income families, it makes more sense to attend a community and junior college rather than a four-year university. Although a college education grows more and More expensive yearly, people begin to question whether college is a good idea to invest in or not. ‘As college costs continue to rise, students and their families are looking more carefully at what they are getting for their money. More often, they’re finding that the school experience falls short of their expectations'(Cooper. H Mary). Many people believe that the cost of a college degree has outstripped the value of a degree. Studies show that a degree can increase your earning power. Many people say that a college degree now is worth what a high school diploma was worth about 20 years ago, and to compete in the job market, a degree is almost a necessity. A college degree is a good investment because it provides more options, opening more doors for you than a high school diploma would. If you choose to invest in college, you will have the job opportunities and earnings of a college graduate for the rest of your working years. If you choose to invest elsewhere, you face the job prospects and earning the power of a high school graduate. “In many cases, young people think they are going to make a substantial income just by having a college degree,” says Edwin L. Herr, a professor emeritus of education at Pennsylvania State University and co-author of Other Ways to Win, a book that analyzes alternatives to the traditional bachelor’s degree. “There are a lot of people destined for unhappiness if we simply say that everybody ought to go to college. I don’t think society in general, requires everybody to go to college. It certainly requires people who have skills, and they’re certainly are ways to obtain those skills other than a four-year college.” (Thomas J. Billitteri).
Although a college degree cannot guarantee you substantial income, it guarantees you upward mobility. A college degree remains the essential credential of the American ideal of upward mobility. Making it a goal that many middle-class and low-income students wish to achieve. ‘As students across the country try to balance the desire for a college degree with the search for funding, these are some of the questions they and their parents are asking: Are students from middle-income families being squeezed out of higher education? (Cooper. H Mary). So, many bright middle-income students are shifting their sights away from prestigious private institutions. Affluent families often include the strategy years before the bill comes due. For low-income families, there are scholarships and Federally supported financial aid packages. Because college tuition and fees are rising every year, students rely on student loans and student aid. ‘In addition to state funds, community colleges receive federal grants and money from local property taxes, as well as tuition, and income from other sources, such as partnerships with businesses and foundation grants'(Hosansky, David). To help minority families, states around the country have offered merit state grants for student aid.
However, since merit scholarships are replacing need-based aid, low-income and minority students are finding their college dreams harder to realize. It is that these students often don’t have the grades for these merit scholarships. ‘Many students from low-income families — and graduate students in particular — also face large burdens'(Clemmitt, Marcia). As the cost of higher education rise, grants for needy students fall back and make these minority students more dependent on these loans to finance their education. With loans falling behind, worries about college costs become a more significant concern. After that, states and private colleges have launched merit-based scholarships that aid from the neediest students to middle and even upper-income families. Although attending a four-year university is a good idea for all students, it may not be the best path to take if you don’t have the financial support and experience supporting you. Going from high school to college is a big transition for many students. Community colleges have long been regarded as something of a poor stepchild to four-year institutions. ‘ While they struggle with low funding and poor graduation rates, they also can seem like a bargain compared with four-year universities, with far lower costs and smaller classes with instructors whose sole mission is to teach rather than do research'(Hosansky, David). In almost half the state, community colleges offer a few bachelor’s degrees. The academic level is much different from high school. Most community colleges are small compared to universities, which means that class sizes are small as well. Lots of students who attend a university first have trouble keeping up with the academic pace and having classes with hundreds of different students only makes matters worse. In the past government, President Obama called for free tuition for community college students who attend at least half time and maintain a 2.5 GPA. (Nelson, Libby). ‘A college degree is the surest ticket to the middle class,’ Obama said in announcing his proposal. ( The White House). Still, community colleges face many challenges. Because they are open-access institutions, they must teach students with weak educational backgrounds. Community colleges will work with you if you are a straight-A student or you failed out of high school, and you want to start all over. Attending a junior college is a smoother transition than attending a four-year college because everything is much more accessible and provides the personal time that students are used to having. Since classes are much smaller, professors are far more accessible, giving students that one on one time that they need. Students who attend large universities also face the challenges of fitting in socially, having to deal with a social life, and the workload as well. Although junior college is a big transition from high school, it provides a great learning and social atmosphere. Attending a junior college does not only boost your knowledge and experience you need for a four-year university, but it also gives you more time to think about your career path. ‘The majority of students who come to community college are unprepared. About two-thirds of them are not college-ready. We have to bridge that gap for unprepared learners (Hosansky, David). Right after high school, students should have an idea of what it is that they want to start a career in. Although most likely to change. The first two years of college are believed to be the most important. In those two years, you gain experience in the career you wish to major in and the curriculum that it comes with. Students will also knock off all the general education requirements in the first two years so that they are covered despite what major they apply for when transferring to a four year. Undecided students who come from middle-class families, should attend a junior college for the first two years to save money in this crucial period. Unless students have a fully mapped out career path; they should take the time to discover what they want to major in that won’t cost them thousands of dollars per year.
Overall, we all know college costs will keep rising yearly making it harder for students to pay for and placing them in these holes full of debt. Unlike higher class families, middle class and low-income families face tougher times finding ways to pull out money to cover these large sums of debt. With these fees skyrocketing, families begin to question if college is a good investment. Because tuition for four-year institutions is making the middle class feel like they are being squeezed out of higher education. With that being a problem, federal states offer student aid, scholarships, and financial aid to help minority students cover the cost of tuition. Since the college degree has become a valuable credential to have to provide financial returns as better jobs and higher salaries. Every student should have a community college in mind, not only four-year institutions. For middle-class and low-income families, it makes more sense to attend a community and junior college rather than a four-year university. Attending a community college would be a much bigger help to reduce the costs for college, providing a learning environment much similar to high school, and more accessibility to students.