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Being Poor or going to college? What’s the difference?

By: Emiliano Vazquez-Parrales, Section Editor for Student Voices (evazqu20@uic.edu)

Ever since I was a kid, my parents’ sole expectations for my siblings and me was for us to go to college.  For that they worked ten hours a day and weekends just to save enough money so that they could help us pay our future tuition.  The early 90’s was a glorious time; the disco era was over (thank God), The Chicago Bulls brought home six championships, the Internet was in its infant stages,  Clinton was in the White House and the budget was balanced.  Back then college wasn’t cheap either but at least it was affordable.  The new millennium came and Y2K had been averted, although in hindsight I wish it hadn’t.  I would have much preferred a global technological apocalypse than the recession.

I recently read that amongst the millennial generation the largest income in history has emerged between those who get a college degree and those who don’t.  Frankly I think that is a load of bull mainly because we’re probably accumulating more debt by going to college and can’t even find a damn job afterwards to pay off our debts.  Those who didn’t go to college probably are no worse for ware, but a lot of my friends who didn’t go to college and instead got technical degrees or got steady jobs and moved up over the years are making much better money than I am right now, not to mention benefits.  Even when we do get jobs worthy of our degrees, we have to work for years to pay off our debt and supposedly if more than $40,000 in debt is accumulated while in college, it will take practically your entire life to pay it off because of interest.

So far I have been very lucky I haven’t accumulated much debt, but I (like many other millennials) have had to live with my parents in order to save money to pay for school.  Now I am not saying that college has been a waste of time, only that it is very very very very expensive.  I mean the state could always raise taxes to help lower the cost of tuition, but nobody likes hearing the words “tax raise” no matter what the money goes to. Universities could always ask private sponsors for money, but something about the University of Taco Bell just doesn’t sound right now does it?  The way I see it we’re screwed unless the country gets its act together and begins prioritizing the funding of  higher education over wasteful spending on things like the military (except the veterans, those guys deserve everything they get and so much more), and congressional salaries.  Until then university tuition is only going to continue to increase, causing a reduction in enrollment and an increase in the average student debt, and frankly I don’t think I am going to be able to drop a million dollars to send my kids (whenever they come around) to college.

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