The Affordability of Learning

by trodr3 on December 4, 2014 - 7:50am


The Affordability of Learning


            Often times, when student's aptitude to learn is discussed, we talk about student-based learning programs, growth versus fixed mindset, visual and auditory learning styles, and test taking techniques. While all of this is valid to the conversation, the one aspect of learning that gets consistently left out is affordability. You may be saying, yes, but I hear college cost and loan payback discussed quite often. I would respond by agreeing, it is certainly discussed but it is discussed as a economic crisis NOT a learning crisis. This categorizing of the issue as purely financial is a grievous harm to the American student, who on average is leaving college with a student debt of at least 26,600$.

            People look at college debt and often times remark that it is an investment in a student's future. Investments are seen as financial matters. How is this a learning issue then? It is a learning issue because if you can't pay to learn, you won't. The stress of the debt, and potential negative consequences for non-repayment make students more likely to leave school, and "settle" for any job they can get once they graduate. Our higher education system is failing our students miserably, and it is not simply a matter of campus life, bad teaching, lack of student motivation, or a need for a paradigm shift in learning style approach. The bigger issue is that student's cannot afford the education and they are painfully aware of this. High school graduates from low income families simply move on to employment straight out of school because with the cost of college so high, it is their only viable option. Even community colleges can place a student into staggering debt. We need to start looking to our nation's students, not as a source of capital, but as a valuable resource to our future progress which we need to nurture and invest in.

            Why is it such a egregious affront to the average student to not include it in the educational learning crisis we are also facing? In today's world a college degree is becoming a necessity to financial security. As our technology advances, so does the educational requirements for those we expect to develop and operate it. We invest money in our technology, so why not our students, the future workforce? The reason these two issues are not combined is because to do so would highlight the capitalist nature of education. An educational system that is supposed to be about the enriching of young minds to think at a higher level. Our college system is driven by greed, not a desire to promote higher education. Student debt has reached a staggering 1.2 trillion dollars, and there is no end in sight. It is also the second largest consumer debt only falling behind consumer mortgages.

            Professor of economic history Tim Leuing, said this of the American student debt system, "The American system is brutal." Professor Leuing teaches at London School of Economics, where in 2012 the British government introduced a new financial plan to move some of the college cost burden to the British student. Where their plan differs from ours is that students who make less than 21,000 pounds a year do not have to pay anything on the loan, when they do pay it is automatically deducted from their checks at a rate of 9% of the loan, and after 30-yrs the debt is forgiven. Many countries in Europe are watching this new system closely since the majority do not require students to pay for their educations; considering it a valuable investment to their country's future stability.

            If we continue to separate the issue of cost with improving learning standards we will continue to fall short of improving our higher education system. Unfortunately, in this capitalist driven society, it is acceptable to place greed over education. We have already begun to see the dire consequences that allowing greed to trump proper handling of a system to occur. This was apparent in the crash of the housing market. Is it possible for the educational system to implode in such a similar manner? If we don't work to fix our broken higher education system we will certainly find out, and I fear that when the system breaks entirely the consequences will be far more severe than we can imagine.  





Works Cited

"England Student Debt Unprecedented as Government Shifts Funding." Bloomberg, n.d. Web. 25 Nov. 2014.

"How The $1.2 Trillion College Debt Crisis Is Crippling Students, Parents And The Economy." Forbes. Forbes Magazine, n.d. Web. 24 Nov. 2014.

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