Why does higher education come with such a hefty price tag in a country as developed and rich as the United States? Developed countries around the world have made education accessible to every student. Education is not a privilege of the wealthy; it is the right of every person. Many people complain about taxes this and too expensive that, but the reality is that the US Pentagon spends $2 billion every day. With a military budget that big, even 4 or 5 percent could send millions of students to college without debt. This is just one of the many reasons why college should be free.
In our society, education is often reserved for the wealthy. That doesn’t mean people of lower economic status can’t go to college. It just means that education absurdly inaccessible for underprivileged people. To tack on the hardships, college for disadvantaged individuals, if they’re even able to get the loans, becomes a long-lasting financial burden — a 20-year-burden at that.
College “accessible” to anyone that is, anyone who can afford it, which therefore makes it inaccessible. And it just so happens that there are specific social groups that are less able to afford it.
Who Can Go?
The obstacle of wealth when considering college attendance is an issue because it impacts demographics, not just because of the numbers, but also because it suppresses and limits minority groups. Minority socioeconomic groups are less likely to proceed from high school to college, not just because of the financial burden. But also because predominately minority schools are disproportionately underfunded compared to predominately white schools. Underfunded schools have fewer resources, less qualified teachers, and, as a result, offer less than adequate educations to Black and brown communities. But underfunded public schools are another topic that I’ll discuss in a later article.
With less than adequate educations and financial burdens, not even mentioning the burden of just being a minority in today’s society, college is often far out of the equation. Therefore, we are left with predominately white and wealthy universities.
Education: Right? Or Privilege?
Education is the process of passing information from older generations on to younger ones. While higher forms of education have become more taken-for-granted, the practice of education has been around since the beginning of time. The human species would be rather primitive if our ancestors didn’t educate each other. This raises the question, “Is education a right or a privilege?” The purpose of education is the same as it was hundreds of thousands of years ago, to broaden people’s knowledge to better prepare them for the future. Only now, it comes with a price tag.
It’s fair to argue that educating your tribe or offspring thousands of years ago was essential to their survival. I acknowledge that “survival” comprised hunting and gathering skills to build shelter and find food in the past. Whereas now, “survival” consists of an individual’s ability to make and accumulate enough money to live comfortably. However, past education and current education goals are “to survive” and are more or less aligned in theory. It’s also fair to argue that, of course, college costs money because everything costs money in present-day society. However, the argument loses much, if not all, credibility when we look at the amount the United States spends on military expenditures.
The hefty price tag that comes along with higher education opportunities makes it seem as though it is a privilege of the wealthy. That’s not to say people shouldn’t have to work for things. But exorbitant prices of 4-year colleges make it almost impossible for anyone of low economic status to afford.