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Student Loans Crush Americans

$37,000 is more than the average yearly income for a single person or a head of household in America. Typically, it is enough to finance rent in cities such as Syracuse, New York for nearly three and a half years. It is a great deal of money for the majority of Americans, and it’s also the average amount that a 2016 college graduate owes in student-loan debt.

As one who is currently applying to 10 different universities, I can certainly state that it is a demanding process. It requires multiple essays and high standardized-test scores, to say the least. But, I am fortunate enough to not also need to worry about how to finance college — which usually includes receiving tens of thousands of dollars in loans. My parents can afford college tuition. I do not need to agonize over the thought of owing debts, possibly before I even obtain my first job.

My situation, however, is not the case for most students across America. According to U.S. News, 70% of students graduate college with a loan to repay. Universities expect millions of people in their early twenties to pay shocking amounts of money. And with top-notch universities such as Princeton, Harvard, and Northwestern, whose tuitions and living necessities exceed $50,000 per year, some students graduate from those colleges with loans that surpass $200,000.

Owing such massive amounts of money is frightening, and it prevents many young professionals from taking business-related risks. Receiving a loan to start a new business is impractical when already owing amounts that exceed the ordinary yearly rent in most cities. Additionally, as per the National Association of Realtors, student debt is delaying millennials from homeownership by seven years.

To make matters worse, Secretary of Education Betsy Devos has halted a program in which the Department of Education worked with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in investigating student-loan fraud. She has ended an Obama-era protection meant to aid individuals from fraudulent actions by loan providers.

Sadly, state colleges such as California State University, Northridge, whose tuition and room and board expenses exceed $20,000 annually, are also considerably expensive for the average American worker, who earned $856 weekly in the second quarter of 2017, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Brown University deserves credit for announcing on Sept. 20 that it will launch a financial campaign to remove student loans for current and incoming undergraduate students. Brown declared that it will substitute the loans with financial grants that will not have to be reimbursed. Universities across the country should follow in Brown’s footsteps. Colleges should take the initiative to raise the funds, so students do not forgo the college experience.

Additionally, too many Americans cannot bear the continual inflation of college tuition. While it is true that universities need to compete with each other, the ridiculously increasing prices will only hurt Americans in the future. At private, nonprofit universities, for example, prices have increased by 30 times in the past 45 years, according to CNBC. How can universities claim they are improving students’ lives when taking such actions?

Congress has the ability to improve this situation, by allocating additional funds that provide grants to college students. As a millennial, I find it imperative that Congress ceases from wasting massive amounts on unnecessary expenses. In 2015, for instance, the House of Representatives’ Education and Workforce Committee spent over $40 billion on 22 programs that no longer had the authorization to receive federal funding.

Congress should create a program through which college students can have their debts forgiven, perhaps in exchange for community service. It would not only provide a brighter future for young people but also bring great service to nonprofits across this country.

America should encourage students to attend college. Every individual that earns a college degree will make America more competitive on the global stage.

My parents may be able to afford college tuition, but that is not the case for most pre-college students. If universities and our government truly want to claim that they are helping the futures of young Americans, they should begin by providing greater assistance with the student-loan debt phenomenon.

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Written by Noam Haykeen

Noam Haykeen is an immigrant from Israel and currently lives in Los Angeles. Follow him on twitter: @nhaykeen.

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