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Tuition, student debt pose challenges for students

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Sara Guneratne/The Round Table

With the increase in tuition cost and no sign of it going down, the real question is how these colleges plan to meet the financial requirements of all their students. Students are now compelled to cross off top colleges from their list due to lack of aid, while in other cases a lack of interest is supplemented with a surplus of aid. Money speaks to these young adults pursuing higher education as a means of social uplift. But because the average student loan debt has increased by 188.5 percent since 1990, while the average income has increased by a mere 1.6 percent, college has become a heavier burden for students to wager. At the end of the day, it may just come down to a few clicks of “I agree,” which can be done in less than a millisecond, but that click may cost ten years of hard work and additional interest to repay. It has led students to pursue more employable majors, whether they are passionate about them or not.

One of the most serious consequences of the increase of tuition is a rise in the college dropout rate. Seventy percent of Americans enroll at a 4-year college but less than two-thirds actually graduate. This should come as no surprise considering the cost of Beloit College tuition alone has seen an increase of 34 percent since 2010 and is projected to see an additional 40 percent increase by 2020. These numbers are symbolic of the stress that has led students to drop-out or to graduate in less than four years. While Beloit has managed to successfully fulfill most of the first-years’ needs, two current first-years said that they will not be able to graduate from Beloit if supplied aid declines after their second year, despite their access to loans.

However, dropping out is not a viable option for some, who are forced to complete their degree in three years rather than in four. Many attempt to balance their education with a  part or full-time job. While this may help them pay their tuition, it can also hamper their education and deprive them of the traditional college experience others are allowed.

With tuition and student debt increasing, the value of education remains a lingering question. Those who consider pursuing higher education face a heavy decision in pondering the reality of student debt and the security of the job market.

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