Education: A Commodity or Right?

Education: A Commodity Or A Right?

A perspective on the financial obstacles of receiving a quality education after high school.

Tuendebede (Pixabay)
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Sidenote: This story is fictional; however, the information in it, such as Warren's and Sander's free college plans, is fact.

When I applied to 10 colleges during my senior year of high school, I waited until April 20th to open their decisions via email and letter. I had until May 20th to decide anyway. I had applied to 2 California state schools, 2 Ivy League schools, 1 community college, and 1 international college, and 4 other public and private colleges that were across the country. Out of all of these colleges, I was rejected from one state school, both Ivy Leagues, and two private and public schools, and I was waitlisted for one public school.

I was accepted to my community college, The Technical University of Berlin, NYU, a state college, and UC San Diego.

While this was great, there was just one problem that I faced: tuition and financial aid.

I first looked at what NYU gave me, $10,000 out of around $60,000 per year; that wasn't much help. I know that some of my friends who got into NYU did this anyway, but they literally will be in over $200,000 of student debt after they graduate, and they are not planning to become doctors or lawyers anyway.



Since I didn't want to drown in debt after college, even when my parents were going to help me with the tuition, I simply couldn't do it. It hurt to reject that offer.

I then looked at my community college, which was very affordable; I could even do a part-time job on the side to pay off the entirety of the tuition. Bingo, no debt. But I also wanted to have a dorm and traditional college experience, and I didn't want to miss out on that solely due to finances.

I then took a break and watched the news for a couple of minutes. The topic they were discussing that day was student debt; perfect.

"Elizabeth Warren announced her Student Loan Cancellation and Free College Plan earlier today. The plan, as she stated, would eliminate up to $50,000 of student loan debt for those making below $100,000; this deduction would then decrease to the point where no help is given to those making more than $250,000. Furthermore, the presidential candidate promised she would make all public colleges tuition-free, put $100 Billion into Pell grants, and create a fund of $50 billion for historically black and minority colleges. She states that this will be paid for by her Wealth Tax.

In other news, Bernie Sanders had previously announced his free college plan as well, which would make public colleges free for families making under $125,000, and community colleges free for everyone. While both plans are very similar, it can be said that Warren's plan is more progressive, and takes this further. This is your local news station, and we will be back after commercial" (Lobosco).

I stared at the screen for a couple of minutes, I then felt relieved. In spite of the presidential election being far away, I was glad to hear that this matter of the high expenses of education and student debt was finally being paid attention to.

What I have noticed in the past year of researching colleges is that, without helpful scholarships, those that don't have a high income have a lack of access to quality education, while those who can afford those high $60-70,000 tuitions can. In this way, education after high school seems to not be a right any longer, but, rather, a commodity.

I then looked back at the schools that I was accepted to.

I was ecstatic when I saw that I was accepted to the Technical University of Berlin, especially since it was very affordable, if I nevertheless can't call it cheap. However, I also heard that, apparently, one has to be careful when applying to colleges outside of the US, as some may not carry the same academic reputation or weight as those in the US.

I kept this to the side.

When I looked at the last school that I was accepted to; it was a public university in NYC, which was affordable, but still expensive.

I looked up other options to see what I could do in order to save money; a couple of hours later, I found my answer.

4 years later, I graduated from SUNY Stony Brook with a bachelor's degree in History, and an associate's degree from my local community college.

I did two years at community, and two at 4-year university.

And, despite being $9,000 in debt, at least I can say it wasn't any higher.

References:

Lobosco "Betsy DeVos faces new lawsuit over student debt forgiveness"

For Further Reading:

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2019/jun/24/student-debt-us-elections-explained-bernie-sanders

https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/2019/06/25/college-tuition-worth-price-40-say-no/1562345001/

https://edition.cnn.com/2019/06/27/opinions/cancel-college-debt-smarter-richer-taylor/index.html

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