American college tuition has risen exponentially over the years, while many students around the world have the option to study for free. Learn more on how higher education differs around the world 🌎 by watching the video below:
Posted by GRCC Collegiate on Wednesday, October 10, 2018
If you have ever been a high-school student here in America, you may have been placed on this very common track. You have most likely been told that the path to finding success in life can only be found through attending a four-year university and graduating with a bachelor’s degree. No matter the thousands of dollars these schools may cost, you and many others may have been convinced, that the massive amount of student loan debt required to partake in college, is merely a part of the process.
How could any 18-year-old even comprehend how to pay for such an endeavor? At this time in your life, the most you’ve ever been paid was probably $8.50 an hour, scrubbing tables at the local Pizza Hut. How can any high-schooler be prepared to pay $34,700 a year? (2018’s Average cost for a private university) The government may say 18-year-olds are too young to understand the ramifications of alcohol, but they do think they are old enough to sign up for over $25,000 in student loan debt. (Yay!) After all, what’s there to be scared of? Everyone goes into student loan debt right? It’s the price to pay to not be flipping burgers for the rest of your life. So most trek on with their college careers, ignoring the fact that the average amount of student loan debt per graduate is estimated to be $39,000. But mom and dad put up with the same thing right? They are financially stable and get to eat out as much as they want – there’s hope in this cruel world right?
The college that many of our family and high school teachers have gone to is now sadly a thing of the past. College has changed immensely over the years, and the average costs of tuition has skyrocketed in the past 30 years. The cost of tuition has risen 213 percent since 1988.
So does the system have to be this way, or is the cost of higher education in American forever doomed to rise exponentially? Throughout many countries in the world, students have the option to pursue public colleges that are either entirely government-funded programs, or much cheaper than what we pay in America. The Collegiate reached out to international college students, to compare how higher education differs around the world.
In Mexico, public universities, and some technological universities, cost almost nothing for Mexican citizens to attend. Within these public universities, students may only have to pay about $150 in fees per semester.
“In Mexico education is a right,” said Emily Singley, a recent graduate at the Merista University of Merida Mexico. “Student loans in Mexico aren’t popular – or a thing, or a way to get through university. Scholarships are. You don’t get in debt. You don’t owe them.”
Despite higher education being much more accessible in Mexico than in the U.S., the country still faces challenges when citizens are tasked with deciding their future.
“I think in a country where nearly 50 percent of the country is still in poverty – the biggest problem is choosing between studying or working to help maintain your family,” Singley said. “That’s why basically a lot of people don’t go to a university in Mexico. They have to work, and they have to eat. University is still not a priority.”
Free public education is also available in the country of Peru. Public colleges in Peru can be difficult to get into, as a placement test is required to gain entry.
Hector Roque, a student from Peru commented on the many differences between public and private education within his country.
“The differences between private and public are high,” Roque said. “Public ones are well known because of the prestigious of years and years of being founded and because the best teachers and famous Peruvian people studied in some of them.”
Despite public colleges being a popular choice for Peruvian students, many private universities also offer some advantages in the country.
“(Private universities) have the most advanced technology,” Roque said. “Computers are not used any more in classrooms they just used iPads and Blackboard as a study platform. People who (have) money usually attends those kinds of colleges.”
One of the most intriguing examples of a public college education can be found in the country of Denmark. Danish students are not required to pay any fees when pursuing forms of higher learning, and actually, get paid for their college endeavors. These monthly stipends are not enough to live off of, but are meant to assist student’s travel and living costs. According to the Washington Post, every student receives around $900 a month.
In America, upon graduation students have a six month period to find steady employment, before having to start paying back their student loans. This six month grace period won’t even wait for the student to find a career within their chosen field. American student loans are impossible to escape from as declaring bankruptcy will not postpone payments. However, in countries such as England, their student loan repayment plans are much more lenient.
“(Loans) are provided based on household income and there is a repayment plan set up where you start to pay back the loan when you have a full-time job earning over a certain amount per year,” said Sadia Aziz, a student studying tourism management at the Manchester Metropolitan University.
England’s repayment plans based upon the student’s yearly income. Some of these repayment plans don’t initiate until said student starts to make as much as £25,000 a year. (Roughly $32,547 in U.S. dollars.)
In Australia, many students face similar issues in regards to rising costs of tuition. Darrel Sheep, a student studying at Griffith University in South Brisbane, Australia commented, “I know at my first college the final study cost was roughly $24,000 AUD and study at my second college will be $28,500 AUD when I finish.”
The Australian government offers conditional loans that allow students to ‘learn-now and pay-later’ up to a limit. These plans are known as VET FEE HELP or HECS HELP. Much like England’s student loan repayment plans, Australian citizens are not required to make payments until their yearly income meets a certain requirement. Some of these plans start once students make up to $51,957 a year. (Whether if they are currently studying or not.)
“After you finish study and then begin to earn over a certain threshold the government takes a percentage of your income and automatically pays back your loan, paycheck to paycheck,” Sheep said.
International students coming to America are faced with even greater financial struggles, as they face higher education costs and specific work requirements and restrictions. “As an international student in the U.S., I have a bigger financial struggle than most of the students in the United States. First of all, we all agree that education is expensive but it’s more than triple for out-of-state and international students,” said The Collegiate’s Multimedia Editor Najd Ayari.
At Grand Rapids Community College, resident students pay $114 per contact hour, while non-residents pay $362 per contact hour.
“Coming from Tunisia, the exchange rate to (the) dollar is always around $ 1U.S. equal to 2.5 TND.,” Ayari said. “Which means the $6,000 that I have to pay per semester is $15,000 in Tunisian dinars, which is a fortune.”
With American college campuses continuing their efforts to expand their campuses and tuition rates skyrocketing, many students and parents are perplexed on what the proper path to success is. Does the only way to find a steady form of employment in America involve entering lifelong crippling debt? While this article doesn’t exist to negate the importance of an education, it should be safe to say that success isn’t determined by committing to a four-year university straight out of high school. (Afterall, Tom Hanks started at a community college.)
While we wait to see if politicians in Washington will ever act to fix the rising tuition costs plaguing our country, many students can find alternative education offerings to the traditional four-year institute. Whether that be studying internationally, getting a career certificate in seminar-based programs, or spending some extra time saving up money after high school, college is ultimately up to the student. There is no “single path to success” no matter what a college brochure might tell you. Education takes many forms all over the world, and it should be a priority to not only be confident in your choice of study – but strategic.