The cost of college

Paying for college is increasingly more difficult than in previous generations Alexis Jewell Vanguard staff A college education has to be paid for, in one way or another. The most common way to fund the expense is to take out a student loan. Student loans are a typical part of getting a college education, right?

No. Well, yes. Well no, but yes hold on! A bit of an explanation is needed.

Are you ready for this? A mere 20 to 30 years ago, a college education was basically affordable—at least, more affordable than today. That means parents or students with a part-time job could usually pay for a decent education at a state college or university. Those who couldn’t for whatever reason, or individuals choosing to attend a more expensive private college, were typically eligible for a Pell grant or scholarships.

Safety Note: If you suffer from a heart condition or asthma, please take precautions before reading the first sentence of the next paragraph.

Pell grants used to cover 80 to 90 percent of tuition costs at a state university. Currently, the maximum amount a student can possibly receive in Pell grants is $5,550 per award year. Divide that by three terms and we’re looking at $1,850 per term, which might actually cover tuition for a resident undergraduate at Portland State University. Of course, the chances of being awarded the maximum amount in Pell grants is about the same as discovering the Holy Grail in Portland behind the bar at Mary’s Club.

I’m estimating the dollar amount awarded averages closer to $350 per term. I know this from personal experience, and trust me when I tell you that I do not have money. Trust me when I tell you that I will be paying off student loans until I’m 124 years old.

Now let’s talk about scholarships. Scholarships are pretty, and make you feel pretty when you get awarded one. Of course, again, the chances of being awarded a scholarship are similar to being chosen as American’s Next Top Model. It could happen, but chances are that someone more attractive than you is likely going to beat you out.

Most scholarships are now either based on academic achievements or are private. This involves all kinds of discrimination. If you grew up in a poor neighborhood, your education may not have been as good as someone else’s or a disability might make it more difficult to complete application requirements, etc. Private schools typically receive more donations than state colleges. If you can’t go to a private university because you’re not a Kennedy or John Nash well, you get the idea.

Portland State University does offer a few dollars. I imagine if you applied for 15 scholarships, you might receive two, and that would probably be enough to cover the cost of textbooks for a year, depending on your major. There’s also the reality that you’re going to have to quit sleeping, stop having a social life, and drop out of school in order to get the applications turned in on time and in a condition that can compete. But hey, Godspeed to you: I’d rather pass my classes and be able to get a job maybe.

For additional fun, the economic condition has resulted in a lack of employment in general according to a CNN article. No, really? If you’re lucky enough to get a job after graduation in the field you studied, the likelihood that it actually pays enough to both live on and pay debt is slim. Supposedly the average student graduates with $21,000 in debt. By the time this amount is cleared, an amount closer to $30,000 or $45,000 will have been paid. The final dollar amount depends on the interest rates and whether or not deferments and forbearances were used.

Furthermore, if you read essays on social justice, it is clear that many students use credit and loan money to simply survive while going to college. Most students are forced to take out loans in order to pay for college and continue habits such as eating and sleeping indoors. If you didn’t how the hell did you manage that?

Student loan debt is greater than credit card debt in the United States. According to USA Today, consumer debt averages a total of $828 billion and student loans average $850 billion. No, that’s not a typo. Billion.

Is getting a college degree worth the cost? Really, what is that cost? What price are we truly paying? ?