ERIKA DITZMAN | OPNION COLUMNIST
Francis Bacon stated that “knowledge is power” and from a young age, education has been encouraged by this very quotation, motivating rowdy children to perform well
in their academics. Though how is one to possess power if this knowledge is far too expensive to obtain? Average public college tuition, $9,410.00, has astonishingly increased by approximately $6,987.00 from 1982 to the present day. Average private college tuition has skyrocketed further yet, increasing by $21,502.00 and settling at an average of $32,403.00 per year. Saint Norbert College average tuition totals $36,593.00.
Although there are opportunities to knock down the total cost, through methods such as the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), scholarships and grants, students do not receive identical treatment in the quality of their education. FAFSA offers grants, or funds which the student does not return, and loans, through which funds are borrowed while interest is accrued. These awards are determined by information such as dependency status, household size or even income. Despite this significant information, circumstances behind these conditions vary. The government has not taken each situation into special consideration, therefore proving unequal opportunity to receive enough assistance in reaching secondary education.
Unfortunately, equal treatment is quite impossible. Each case cannot be addressed equally, which in turn leads to loans, and therefore, extra money out of a college student’s empty pocket in the form of high interest rates causing outrageous debts. The total student debt as of present day reaches $1.45 trillion, affecting over 44.2 million Americans. As a result, each student will likely emerge from college with an average of $32,805.43 in money owed. Merit scholarships assist in decreasing the sum of loans a student must borrow according to academic, musical or athletic achievement. The scholarships offered at Saint Norbert College are currently as follows: Trustee Distinguished Scholarship for $80,000.00, Presidential Scholarship for $68,000.00, John F. Kennedy Scholarship for $52,000.00 and Van Dyke Award for $40,000.00. Appearing at first as a large sum of money, the highest scholarship only offers $20,000.00 per year, bringing the average tuition down to a total of $16,563.00. This does not include the room, board or meal plans, creating an even more outlandish outcome.
With monetary value placed on knowledge, these supposed solutions for minimizing secondary education cost are in vain. The solution: free education.
As stated by the Constitution of the United States of America, there will be equal opportunity available for all. This encompasses equality of educational opportunity and therefore calls for free schooling at a college level.
The kingdom of Denmark grants this to students, allowing for more skilled workers with no financial damage. No citizen falls into “economic despair” as explained by the Huffington Post, instead being given the freedom to choose any occupation regardless of economic position. Free education leads to higher wages, two times higher than in the United States, and a greater quality of life. In comparison to the American people, with 46.7 million people in poverty as of 2015, free education is the only option to create a financially stable and worry free lifestyle. The American education system is clearly flawed as demonstrated by the never-ending statistics of financial support. Free education is the only alternative for a happy and healthy society.