Until recently, I wasn’t entirely aware of how monumental the problem of paying off college loans was in the life of an everyday American student. I come from a culture where parents are expected to save up and pay for college — it was a given. Even if they didn’t have the resources to pay for college, most countries do not charge the same exorbitant fees that most colleges in America seem to charge their students.
I have heard many of my peers voice their worry of not being able to pay off their debt once they graduate college, and to me, that seems ridiculously unfair. Your college years are supposed to be your carefree years; college is where you lay the foundation for your professional life ahead, but you also explore new connections and discover your own individuality. How is one expected to do that when the worry of paying off loans looms like a dark, haunting specter?
Students here seem to cope by picking up as many odd jobs as they can find, as well as applying for scholarships and financial grants. But education shouldn’t be seen as a privilege, it should be seen as a right: a right that all should have access to, regardless of their social class.
It seems extremely classist to me that, for those who are not able to afford their college tuition on their own and have to apply for loans, the next few years after graduation prove to be their make-or-break years. I have had friends tell me that they need to find well-paying jobs to pay off their loans, even if their true desire to work in a non-profit or a place which they’re passionate about.
I am only just beginning to recognize the true extent of my privilege in graduating college debt-free and being able to work at any place my heart desires without worrying about the financial aspect of it now. Using passion as a sole motivating factor in looking for jobs is not something people struggling to pay off their college debt are able to do.
I am happy to see so many political candidates voicing the need to cancel student debt, and it is a rallying cry that all of us as students should support. I see so many people arguing that if we cancel student loans, it would not be fair to those people prior to the current batch of students who worked hard to pay off their loans; why should these students get off easy?
To these people, I say that now is the chance to help students fight against the very struggles they complain they also had to face. Just because they had to work hard to make ends meet doesn’t mean the system is right or works. It basically conveys the opposite: something has to change, and the past proves it.
The solution is simple: reduce the cost of tuition so students are able to pay these off easily, and cancel student loans that have entrapped and burdened so many young people both financially and psychologically.