Middle class struggles with cost of college

Paneal Holland, Columnist

All my life I was told that if I ever wanted to live a good life and support myself, I had to go to college and get a degree. As I got older, going to college became more important to me. Being born and raised in Ethiopia up until the age of nine made me open up my eyes and see things in so many different ways. As a child, the main focus of life for my family was survival, not so much focused on going to college. But soon after my younger brother and I were adopted, my whole perspective of life continued to change. Growing up I watched my single mother struggle to support us simply because she never had a college degree. My birth mom didn’t attend college not because she didn’t want to, but because her priorities were much different. Her only goal was to give my brother and I everything we needed to survive. As a nine-year-old watching my birth mom struggle through life was very hard and for that same reason, when I came to the U.S. I knew that I didn’t want to encounter the same life experience as my mom. Therefore, the thought of college continued to become more and more important. 

Teagan Kimbro

Even though going to college was always part of my plan, the cost of tuition in the U.S. is ridiculous. I am fortunate enough to get adopted by a family that is part of the middle class. As far as paying for school, that is another story. I mean, the cost of college is insane as well as out of control.  Even though my family loves and cares about me, they don’t support me financially to pay for school.  

Middle class families are treated unfairly when it comes to financial aid. I know this for a fact because I happen to be one of those middle class families that don’t get any money from financial aid. The federal aid will look at the parent’s contributions and assume they make enough money to help pay for tuition. In reality, most parents are not wealthy enough to pay for their child’s tuition at all.  

A lot of the people I know who are middle class don’t receive financial help from their families. The government will calculate student’s aid eligibility by measuring the household’s financial situation that takes into account family income among other things. Unfortunately, some people that come from a middle class family don’t receive any money from financial aid, simply because the parents “make too much money,” but actually that’s not true at all. 

Getting a college degree is very important, but it shouldn’t cost us an arm and a leg to get one. Some people simply work multiple jobs to support themselves while being in school. The people that are successful and end up graduating school debt free are usually wealthy. Those are the ones that end up going to Ivy League schools and are less likely to drop out. They are the lucky ones because they or their families can afford it, but again not everyone is blessed like that. 

 There are many countries around the world that offer higher education for free. For example, places like Norway, Sweden and Germany all offer free college tuition to their residents. 

How amazing would it be if the U.S. just adapted to some of the other college systems around the world? Not only would it change so many lives, but it would also motivate people to go out and pursue their dreams without being financially indebted. 

A survey from the Harvard Kennedy School’s Institute of Politics found that 51% of Americans between the ages of 18 and 29 support eliminating tuition and fees at a public college. Personally, I feel like making college free in this economy is unrealistic, and more of wishful thinking. Obviously, there is no perfect system but, if the cost of college expenses were to be reduced and if our legal system would just see all the struggles we as a whole are going through, it would solve most of our problems.