Is college too expensive?

If you’re reading this, there’s a very good chance you’re a college student. And if you’re a college student, there’s a very good chance you’re going to graduate owing money. A lot of money. Twenty-eight thousand dollars, to be exact.

According to The Institute for College Access and Success, 69 percent of college graduates owe $28,400 when they leave school. Don’t worry though, Tennessee students graduate owing a measly $25,000.

 I understand college degrees are important. In today’s society, they’re crucial if you want a good job. Besides that, college is important for the growing opportunities it presents. College forces you to think differently and learn how to live on your own. But if a degree is so important, why am I being punished for pursuing one?

According to a survey by the One Wisconsin Institute, it takes 21 years for students with bachelor’s degrees to pay off their loans. That means most students are in their forties by the time they pay off their loans. You will probably have children and a house before you pay off your loans.

It’s not like Tennessee Tech is overpriced. In fact, according to TICAS, Tennessee Tech students graduate with an average debt of $17,000. That’s cheap compared to TSU, whose students have an average debt of $30,000. But it doesn’t change the fact that I will be $17,000 in the hole by the time I graduate.

Dave Ramsey suggests that students work through college to end up debt-free. It’s certainly a viable option, for some people. Some people have the ability to take at least 12 hours a semester while still finding the time to work one or two jobs, finishing their homework and getting enough sleep to be a functioning human being, all while maintaining a good GPA.

But why should you have to?

I’m not saying you shouldn’t work hard when you go to college. The people who work their way through school are downright impressive. That’s why college degrees are so significant: They show you worked hard for four years to gain an education.

But shouldn’t your college years be spent focusing on that education? Shouldn’t most of your time be devoted to gaining knowledge so you can become a functioning member of society?

Instead, students kind of become job-zombies. If they’re not working themselves to death while they’re in school, they’re working themselves to death once they leave it. And that’s no way to live.

Current job market aside (spoiler alert: it’s not great), there’s a good chance I won’t be able to buy a house or a car once I graduate. You know, those things you’re supposed to go to college for so that you can afford them? Right now, it seems like I’m going to college just so I can pay off my student loans.

At public colleges in Scandinavia, tuition is free. Free. In case you didn’t quite get that, it’s free. It’s an amazing education, too. The Atlantic calls Finland an “education superpower.” I’m not saying tuition needs to be free in the U.S. There’s no way colleges could support themselves. But if it can be done for free, why can’t it be done at a more affordable price?