Yesterday my teenage daughter was inducted into the National Honor Society. I’m extremely proud of her. I always have been but now it’s quantified.
After the initial induction, they had a parade of high school seniors. It was announced what college or university they would be attending, their intended major and how much they had received in scholarships. Considering the major focus of this high school is primarily arts, many of the students are going to be studying arts programs, such as theater and music.
This is where the shock comes in. A number of the students had scholarships in amounts of hundreds of thousands of dollars. Several had over $100,000 in scholarships. For theater arts programs. One had a scholarship of $700,000. That is not a typo. Seven hundred thousand dollars.
One student will be attending medical school. His scholarship? $193,000. So the theater students had scholarships far surpassing the medical school student.
In total, roughly 30 students had a grand total in scholarships of over $4 MILLION.
In no way am I dismissing the accomplishments of these students. They worked hard and earned their scholarships. The deserve the reward and recognition they will be receiving.
The point I am making is that this is now the cost of education. Over $4 million for 30 students. How did we get to this point in this country? How did education become this expensive?
Consider the students who may be bright and talented but were unable to gain a scholarship. How many of them are there in just this one high school? How much will the other hundreds of students be paying for years, decades, their entire lives to acquire an adult education? How many will not see any real benefit to that education yet still have that debt?
Consider the fact that a scholarship is not intended to cover all the costs of an education. It is only intended to defray some level of that expense. So even the students with scholarships in many cases will incur debt along the way.
How many students give up all hope of further education? Disheartened by the cost, the very idea of a lifetime of debt? How many have seen parents paying student loans for the length of the child’s life? Many people today retire with student loans they still must pay for years into retirement.
Did you know if you marry someone with federal student loan debt that if they die you are liable for the remainder of that debt? Did you know if you become disabled there is still no way to discharge that debt without paying it in full?
Adult education really should not be a for-profit endeavor. Yet it is. Corporations make profits from the lifetime of work we exert but that’s not enough. They have to make profits from the education we are required to have to do that work.
Even that is not enough for corporations. Corporate owned charter schools are making profits from children’s basic education while often doing that extremely poorly. Probably so they can charge more for remedial adult classes. Meanwhile, the pay for teachers remains stagnant or decreasing, benefits stripped away as time goes on.
This is why so many of us are pushing for socialized adult education. This is why countries that have socialized education are passing us by at light speed.
We pay the price in many ways besides the obvious. Our entire economy suffers because money spent paying student loans is not spent to support the economy. We pay in terms of stress and depression which diminishes productivity and creativity. We pay in terms of medications to alleviate the stress and depression. We pay if we fall behind on student loans (or heaven forbid we default on a federal student loan). This impacts our credit score, which can affect our ability to be hired for the best jobs. The stress may affect our relationships and our health. Paying the debt may take time away from our families, leading to more stress and depression. That stress and depression can cross generations as it affects the time and quality of our relationships with our children.
And it’s getting worse by the day.
So, let me hear more of you corporate puppets say, “Just get an education!” One more time.