February 22, 2024


College Is No Longer Affordable

By: Anthony Miragliotta

College is a very exciting time in one’s life. It is a fresh start in a new place with newfound freedoms. However, college has gotten more and more expensive every year. Many students who know they are college-bound always ask themselves “Where do they want to go to college” when the question should be “Why do they want to go to college.” While both questions are valid and entirely relevant, many students do not consider the cost of college before going to their dream school. This could lead to having hundreds of thousands of dollars to pay off student loans after graduation.

The narrative that high school teachers and support staff tell their students is they will never be successful unless they go to college. The majority of the time, professions that can be picked up in trade school like plumbing and carpenting are never talked about as a professional career. This is a huge problem now because America has a shortage of plumbers and carpenters—both professions that make good money. 

The best investment for a high school student who is looking to attend college but does not know what their major is going to be is to apply to Community College (CC). While attending CC, a student can learn what they want to do while taking their general education courses. Once CC is over, the student can apply to their dream school, saving themselves a lot of money.

Another investment a prospective student can make if they do know what they want to study is to attend a 4 year school closer to home. Yes, I understand the whole college experience narrative is you are not going to get a real college experience unless you live away, but is it worth it? You can still be active on campus while getting your degree. The main goal is to graduate school with a degree and come out of college with as little debt as possible.

In my experience, I attended Ramapo College, a small liberal arts school in Northern New Jersey, which is a 30-minute commute to and from home. Although I did not live on campus, I did make the most of my experience during my college days. I was very active on campus, being a part of numerous organizations and taking advantage of everything the college had to offer me. This includes spending the spring semester of my junior year interning and living in Washington, DC, and serving on the Student Government Association (SGA) primarily serving as their 1st ever Chief Justice. It was a rewarding role to be in, although not easy at times, the first year of the SGA Supreme Court was a success! During my time in the SGA, I oversaw many of the problems plaguing the Higher Education industry on my turf. Many of these problems were college affordability, students dealing with stress and mental health problems, specifically during the COVID-19 pandemic; and free speech on campus which was a big problem for many right-leaning groups on campus.

In New Jersey, 64 percent of graduated college students have loans to pay off, per the Education Data Initiative (EDI). This is a troubling metric compared to a state like Utah where 40% of their graduated students come out of school with debt. Is it worth holding back your career and doing important life activities because you have loans to pay off? Of course not! The goal college serves is to help students find a good paying job once they graduate college. The Higher education industry has many fires that need extinguishing. Making college affordable for the common middle-class student should be a priority. The moral is if you decide to go to college prioritize the best financial option available. It is not worth paying off students for many decades to come.