As a student, after you get past the battle of getting into your favorite, or back-up, colleges, the next big step to work towards is paying for that said college.
Everyone who is admitted to any college goes through this process, whether it is loans, grants, or money growing from financial aid trees. (Just Kidding) Be aware there is a whole financial aid department at every school, because the cost of college is so overwhelming. It continues to rise and students continue to scramble to find money.
Sometimes, money doesn't always go to the "need-based." Which is becoming more prevalent. Aid is becoming more "merit-based" whether it's the pricier, superior schools, or the students previous academic performance that earns them more money. Obviously, there are also athletic scholarships: football, basketball, etc. Applying for academic scholarships directly with the school as well is always a good idea, even if you don't fit all the requirement and if you get that, use it towards tuition.
But for individuals who don't qualify for any of those, are left with the void that can only be filled by loans, unless you are made of money.
According to the College Board & Advocacy Policy Center, the cost of a private nonprofit four-year college institution has risen 267% over the past 30 years. Simultaneously, the cost of a public four-year college institution has risen by 357%. The average student loan debt for graduates stands at $26,000.
Think about this: The total for all outstanding student debt in the US is over $1.2 trillion. So what do we do as a nation to help the students?
President Barack Obama has made cost of college a priority. "We've got a crisis in terms of college affordability and student debt," Obama told students at the State University of New York at Buffalo, one of the four public schools catering to middle-class students. But, Obama explained that the government used more money on prisons that colleges in recent decades.
Clearly, their priorities are off when the government spends more money on our criminals, than to educate young minds. Yet, the government and other agencies compare our test scores with other countries, wanting to compete with the smartest students all over the world.
As of 2012, the US was ranked fourth in percentage of population that had a college degree. Canada ranked first with 51% of their population.
As a nation, we understand education is important, but we don't always see financing college as much of a "need." No, paying for college isn't a walk in the park. And yes, it can be difficult and overwhelming taking out loans year after year to get through to graduation for your degree, but for the most part, the degree is worth the money and time you put into it. It's not anyone's fault the government or rather, our society, doesn't prioritize student financial aid near the top, where it should be on the bigger picture: helping current students and paving a way for affordability our future generations.