Student Loans Spark Debate: Is School Too Expensive?

Student Loans Spark Debate: Is School Too Expensive?

As the total amount of student debt topples over $1 trillion, many have begun to question just how expensive a college degree is. The Student Loan Forgiveness Act was proposed in Congress at the beginning of March, but in spite of the large number of students facing debt, the bill has received much opposition.

When a bill to forgive student debt was proposed, some complained that students who had less money should have attended a public University, assuming that the large debts were the result of a private education. That is not necessarily the case, however. USA Today revealed that at the end of 2011, the cost of public universities and colleges had increased by more than 8 percent.

In 2004, tuition at public schools increased a shocking 11 percent. One couple commented on Forbes that the cost of their son's tuition nearly doubled during his 4-year tenure. Another student stated that she had chosen her university because of the large scholarship that she received, which made it the most affordable option. However, a year into school, the scholarship was dropped, despite the fact that her GPA had gone up, along with the cost of tuition.

Adding to issues faced by college students, the most recent information available shows that state lending dropped 4 percent in 2010, and 23 percent over the past decade. Even after inflation, an 8.3 percent increase is more than double that of rising inflation.

"It has become all too common for state legislatures to dip into the pockets of students and families to balance state budgets," Molly Corbett Broad, president of the American Council on Education, told USA Today.

When Michigan Congressman Hansen Clarke proposed a bill titled the "Student Loan Forgiveness Act" many people were outraged. The act would mean that borrowers would be required to make monthly payments of at least 10 percent of their incomes for a minimum of ten years (five years for those in public service), with the remaining balance being forgiven after that time.

"Really? Are you kidding? Try manning up and being an adult," Craig Connor said on the Christian Post site, in response to the bill.

The College Board has estimated the average tuition between 2011 and 2012 to be around $17,131, but Forbes magazine has pointed out that the actual cost could be much higher.

"According to the Business Insider, there is nearly $70,000 in additional college costs that aren't included in these estimates including college tour costs, computers, transportation, laundry, cell phone, etc." the financial site confirmed.

Forbes number breakdown translated that parents attempting to save for their children's education would have to put away an estimated $925 per month, or $600 a month if using an account that accrues interest.

Others who opposed student loan forgiveness suggested that students should work while in college.

"This law is insanity... I went to school for 6 years and paid every penny including loans. Why should we all (through tax dollars) subsidize others?" the user FreeLoader questioned on the Christian Post blog.

The issue raised however is that holding a job while attending college could have a negative impact on grades. A study, published in the "Journal of Student Affairs Research and Practice" has revealed that while working can have certain positive factors, it does in fact lead to lower scores.

"Consistent with the conventional wisdom," Gary R. Pike, lead author of the study, told Inside Higher Ed, "working more than 20 hours a week has a negative impact on students' grades, whether the employment is on campus or off."

Student who take jobs in college are also less likely to qualify for certain financial aid programs and scholarships. Congressman Clarke has made it clear that the proposed bill was intended to stimulate the economy by targeting an issue that has snowballed out of control.

"Excessive student loan debt is impeding economic growth in the United States. Faced with excessive repayment burdens, many individuals are unable to start businesses, invest, or buy homes," Clarke states in the bill.

"Because of soaring tuition costs, students often have no choice but to amass significant debt to obtain an education that is widely considered a prerequisite for earning a living wage," he added.