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Fighting crushing student debt and tuition

Resolutions and changes in tuition work to improve students’ financial situations during college

College students are graduating with thousands of dollars of debt hanging over their heads. President Obama’s free two years of community college plan and some universities’ tuition changes will change the face of student debt and tuition for the future.

Post-graduation debt is a major concern for many students who are crushed by payments after leaving college, but recent calls for reform in tuition may help to alleviate this growing state of student debt.

On April 21, six congressional Democrats proposed a resolution stating that all students from public colleges and universities would be able to graduate without debt. The resolution is supported by the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, who hope to make the topic of debt-free college a major discussion in the upcoming 2016 presidential campaign.

This topic needs to become a vital issue during the campaigns, as students are struggling to afford higher education. Over the last 30 years, the cost of college has increased by 300 percent. With 71 percent of students earning a bachelor’s degree graduating with an average debt of $29,400, the effects on the economy are terrible.

One of the Democrats proposing the resolution, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said, “When students graduate with loads of debt, the ripple effects are endless; they’re less likely to start a business, to buy a house and to realize their full potential.”

In January, President Obama also proposed a solution to some college tuition, when he called to have 2 years of community college free for students who are at least part time and maintain a GPA of 2.5.

Universities like Stanford and Princeton are also taking steps to improve their tuition costs for students whose parents fit a financial criteria. If the parents of a Stanford University student have an income under $125,000 a year, they owe no money to the school whatsoever. Furthermore, if the parents’ income is under $65,000, the room and board will also be covered for the student.

Princeton has a similar system, but the parents must be making under $140,000 a year to receive free tuition and between $60,000 and $120,000 to have a reduction in room and board.

Such changes will be the saving grace for many students who are finding college to be simply unaffordable. It will also help motivate students to apply and stay in school without the stress of maintaining full time jobs to alleviate their impending post-graduation debt.

Opposers of free two year community college program claim that this is another “liberal handout” that contributes to more useless government spending. They also argue that 22 percent of community college students graduate within three years and 28 percent graduate within four.

80 percent of students claim to want their bachelor’s degree or a higher degree, but only 20 percent of these individuals transfer to a four year university in five years. Their point is that students are not graduating within that two year time bracket and many do not end up continuing on with higher education.

However, if tuition can be eliminated and students are given the incentive to finish within two years and maintain a 2.5 GPA to avoid paying anything, it seems like those numbers have the possibility to improve. Students may not feel as pressured to maintain a full time job and a full course load simultaneously, which may allow for a quicker graduation date.

These resolutions are at least a sign of positive changes in the price of universities or the state of student debt in the United States. While the changes will most likely be slow to come, these proposals show promise for a better future for American universities.