When their article “It’s Time to Push

When society essentially requires a certain action to be taken by its members in order for them to be able to live full and satisfied lives, this means taking that action should not only be readily available to all, but also should not have an additional cost which can place unnecessary financial pressure on said societal members. Such is the case with obtaining a college education within the United States. With every passing year, students are told that unless they obtain a higher education, finding a good job that will allow them to comfortably survive will be impossible. This statement is the catalyst students need in order to attend college and better their lives as a result. What people generally fail to consider, however, is whether or not all people have the financial capability to attend college. For   those who cannot afford college, certain systems have been set in place that make it relatively simpler  to do so. Still, these systems are not foolproof and often lead to students borrowing more money         for school than they actually need, causing them to dig their own holes even deeper, drowning in debt   as soon as they graduate. This leads to the staggering fact that total student loan debt in the United States   is now increasing at a rate of approximately $2,853.88 per second (FinAid | Loans | Student Loan Debt Clock). Since society has shaped itself in a way so as to require a higher education in order to be successful, it too must provide this opportunity for all people, allowing everyone to thrive equally, if they so choose to.Almost one hundred years ago, society was at the brink of another similar transition – they were being told that in order to live a successful life, one had to obtain a high school diploma. What this diploma did was provide a bit of general knowledge in various fields and subjects that would allow for members of society to be able to comfortably function with a respectable amount of education and knowledge. In today’s world, not much has changed except for the level of education deemed necessary. In their article “It’s Time to Push for Free College,” Max Page and Dan Clawson of the National Education Association state, “A century ago high school was becoming a necessity, not a luxury; today the same is happening to college. If college is essential for building a career and being a  full participant in our democracy as high school once was, shouldn’t it be free, paid for by public dollars, and treated as a right of all members of our country?” (Page and Clawson). In other words, if college is required in order for one to be able to function within society as a full-fledged member, then this requirement should not have to be paid for, thus allowing everyone to take part. This does not mean everybody will attend college; this simply means they will be able to do so if that is what they choose   to do for themselves. The reason why a college degree of today is the high school diploma of yesterday is because society has slowly but surely set it up this way. In today’s world, the only way to even break into the middle class is by way of a higher education. Unless, by some stroke of luck or opportunity one is able to work their way to the top, which happens more often than one may want to believe, a college education is the only legitimate step in reaching this goal. As society progresses, the amount of jobs available for individuals become limited which leads to people wanting to pursue a higher education for a better chance.  According to the Thomas Mortenson the unemployment rate for those who are only high school graduates compared to those who obtain a college degree is almost 3 times higher. Mortenson also states that “The lifetime income of families headed by individuals with a bachelor’s degree will be about $1.6 million more than the incomes of families headed by those with a high-school diploma.” Additionally, The U.S. Census Bureau states “that in 1999, average income for a male age 25 and up who holds a bachelor’s degree was about $61,000, compared to about $32,000 for a male with a high-school diploma—so the college graduate’s income was about $29,000 more annually than           the high-school grad’s,” and incomes of those with only a high-school education are sinking steadily lower. This demonstrates the immense difference in income between individuals who graduate from high-school than those who pursue a higher education. Public and political conversations about free college were being held as early as 1877 by President Rutherford B. Hayes. Like the Bernie Sanders of today, President Hayes believed that “Universal suffrage should rest upon universal education,” and that “liberal and permanent provision should be made for the support of free schools,” which he proudly proclaimed in his inaugural address (Sanders). For Hayes, and for Sanders, “…education was the basis for full economic and political participation, and full participation was the basis for all prosperity. An education should be available to all regardless of anyone’s station” (Sanders). In other words, the american public cannot expect future prosperity without having an open door to higher education to those who wish to pursue one. By making the process of obtaining a higher education easier, we are increasing the chances of an advanced and educated society. Many will argue that students already have the ability to attend college, if they so choose,        but that there is no reason it should be free. If they qualify for federal funding through the FAFSA,           free application for federal student aid, they will be allotted a significant amount of grant money that       will cover a majority of most students’ educational costs. If there is still a balance to cover, students     are provided the opportunity to obtain federal subsidized and unsubsidized loans. Logically, there seems    to be nothing wrong with this formula; however, realistically, in execution, this formula is painfully misleading. Students often end up borrowing more money than they need, colleges keep raising     tuition since the government is so keen on giving and loaning more money to students, and the end   result becomes an unmanageable system where schools are insanely overcharging students for the very     thing society requires them to have – a thorough education.Superficially, the American public have been provided all types of systems that assist them in navigating the various necessities of life, education being one of them. Realistically, however, it is another story entirely. Currently two-thirds of American college student are graduating in debt. According to CollegeRank.net, between 2008 and 2014, there has been over an 80% increase in the cost of obtaining a college degree. In 2008, the United States has a total yearly government subsidy    of $160 billion, a staggering amount. In 2014, however, total student debt had increased to an unimaginable $1.1 trillion (How America’s Colleges Could Be Tuition Free). These alarming facts affect students decisions to  pursue a higher education. In his book “Is College Worth it?”, William Bennett states that “Expecting, and subsequently acquiring, some burden of student-loan debt is now the norm for people considering college, even before enrollment begins.” He also states that the cost to attend college is so high that more than half of freshmen in college reported in a survey that they are sure that they will be in need of student loans to pay for college. According to the Department of Education, if trends continue, the cost of attending a public university will have more than doubled in the next fifteen years. This demonstrates that the cost for pursuing a higher education and potentially bettering one’s life is rapidly increasing.  According to Bennett, over the course of the twentieth century, college slowly became an established custom for americans because “it was affordable and future earnings exceeded the tuition costs.” However, he states that in our current time and day that is no longer the case. Students are thinking twice about attending college due to the increasing costs of pursuing a higher education. Instead they are “diverting current and future income to their education with the hope that they will one day recoup their spending with future earnings; but that is no longer guaranteed” (Benett).  Schools need to understand that simply because the government is willing to provide more funding to students, whether through grants or loans, crippling students with uncontrollable amounts of debt straight out of college is no way to help society build valuable lives and become respectable members of society.In conclusion, societal members who not only want but need to attend college to better themselves, should not be guaranteed debt once they graduate. Their economic backgrounds and upbringing should not affect their desire for their future. It’s time our country pushes for free college for numerous of reasons but mainly to reach a progressive society and prosperity.