Should State Colleges be free to attend?

Gabbie Byers, Journalism 1 Staff

Growing up and going through public as opposed to private school, money has never been a factor in my education. Now that I’m halfway through high school, I’m constantly asked what college do I want to go to and what do I want to do later on with my life (because that’s what high school is preparing us for). What high school isn’t preparing me for, though, is how to afford college, which isn’t free like the 13 years before it.

The reality now is that in the job world you need a college degree to get a good job that you can actually make a living with. However 62% of Michigan students surveyed say they can’t afford to go to a state college. How do we expect our generation to be able to go through college and get a good job to help out the economy when they can’t afford it?

I have one working parent with 3 other siblings; it will obviously be very difficult for all of us attend a good college to be able to succeed at the level we are expected to do. Yes, there are grants and scholarships, but it’s becoming common knowledge that it’s more difficult to receive them than ever before, especially in a competitive high school like Northern.

Lots of people have a dream college; I would love to go to a Chicago school, but I know my family and I are already going to have trouble putting me through a state college, let alone paying out of state tuition. Tuition at the University of Chicago for me would be $50, 997 per year. In contrast, WMU is currently at $21,198 with the cost going down to $11,493 if I stayed at home. That’s still a debt of at least $45,972 if I graduated in 4 years…more than many first-year salaries for the jobs I could get with just a Bachelor’s degree.

If state colleges were free, even for just low-income students, there would be so much less stress in family homes and more opportunities for the people who want to succeed to do so. If someone wants to go to an out of state college, then they can pay the prices of a out of state school, which will still allow colleges to make vast amounts of money. Even reducing tuition and still expecting students to pay the full price for books, fees, etc. would greatly help young people not just go to college but start a life debt-free after they graduate. There’s a future for everyone out there, and the high cost of college has too many would-be students not going as far as they could in life and simply going to work at a fast food joint then sleeping the rest of the day on their parents’ couch.

Grace Cummings (10) feels the burden of paying for college. “My parents expect me to go to college, but I have to pay for it by myself. It’s a big stress factor in my house,” she said. Cummings is also expected to get straight A’s throughout high school and be committed to a sport, but to top it off, she will need to get a job to start saving up to be able to put herself through a in state college. Her parents have lived in Michigan her entire life, they pay taxes, and she’s a straight A student and hard worker. Letting more students like her attend an in state college for free will allow them to do something for not only themselves, but get a good job after that to support their families and other people in the community as well.