Aptly put by Ms. Liza Minelli and Mr. Joel Grey in the 1972 movie musical Cabaret, money does in fact make the world go round. Gen Z-ers (those born between the years 1995 and 2015 are no stranger to this concept.
As reported by CNBC, according to the Federal Reserve, over half of college students in 2018 took out loans and about 69% of students from that year’s graduating class were left with an average debt balance of $29,800 upon graduation.
Over the past two and a half years, my parents and I have taken out an average of $9,000 each year in loans, which means I’m looking at a cumulative debt of $36,000 by the time I graduate with my Bachelor’s degree. And I’m one of the lucky ones: I am an Arizona resident (qualifying me for in-state tuition), an attendee of a public state school (which has historically been cheaper than any private institution), and I’ve earned significant merit-based financial aid in the way of scholarships.
But I ask you: how can graduating with $36,000 in student debt be considered lucky?
By the way, I am earning degrees in Political Science and Women & Gender Studies, two fields which do not require further graduate study, but it would behoove me to continue my education with Master’s or Doctoral programs. Graduate school, as I’m sure you know, is not cheap.
These numbers are scary for Gen Z-ers and their parents alike. The wake-up call I received upon being accepted to Arizona State University and receiving my first bill was stress-inducing enough. So it’s no wonder presidential candidates like Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren have had widespread support from young voters regarding their tuition-free college and debt relief proposals.
However, most of their proposals consist of increased taxes on the rich, one group which has historically been stingy with its money and highly influential during election cycles. Consequently, so-called “socialist” policies like these have yet to gain significant support from Congress.
I still hold out hope that America will wake up and recognize the $1.5 trillion student debt figure as a legitimate crisis that needs appropriate reform–and fast. We’ve already been given two proposals by prominent presidential candidates. Do you think they have found the solution?