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Serving the Fullerton Community Since 1922

The Hornet

Presidential candidates talk more affordable tuition for college students

One of the most stressful responsibilities a person may have is to take care of finances. For a college student, that stress may be heightened if they are taking on the challenge of paying for their education by themselves or trying to find means to help them do so.

Recently in the world of politics, potential presidential candidates have been speaking their mind on particular issues that greatly affect the United States, but the cost of education is not always the number one priority. In fact, the cost had gone up in recent years.

Financial aid
Front entrance of the Financial Aid Office in Building 100. Photo credit: Sarah Espiritu

Destiny Jackson, a communications major, has to maintain both a full school schedule and 30-35 hours a week at work in order to pay for classes, bills and other necessities. Financial aid through FAFSA has also played a big part in allowing her to pursue her education.

Unfortunately, that’s not always enough.

“My parents have not spent one cent on me since I began my college education. I scrape by with job money and financial aid,” Jackson said. “I also tend to exert myself at work picking up those extra hours, which certainly cuts into my study time and is very tiring, but when you have bills to pay, you have to pay them.”

In the past, community colleges in California offered no cost per unit prior to the fall of 1984. Over 30 years later, the cost per unit has gone up to $46. Although this may not be the most expensive rate for colleges in the United States, it makes a big difference when the cost of living is also factored in.

Business administration student Lauren Organista had been working roughly 40 hours a week prior to starting school but has since cut her hours in half in order to focus on her school work. This has been a great sacrifice considering she pays for her own bills and rent as well.

However, she found a smart way to help herself out in this situation by actively searching for scholarships anywhere she can, especially since she had recently returned to school after a few semesters off.

“So much money goes unclaimed because people don’t take advantage of the scholarship offerings or even grants. I applied this year for financial aid but did not think I would get it because in the past my parents still claimed me on their taxes. I got lucky though and was not only accepted for the BOGG waiver but also other forms of financial aid,” Organista said.

Ironic huh?
Financial Aid Office Photo credit: Sarah Espiritu

Lucia Sanchez, a dental hygiene student, is fortunate enough to also receive assistance through financial aid, the BOGG waiver and from her family members while working less than 20 hours a week.

“If tuition was less, I feel like it would be a lot easier. I actually know someone who didn’t get the [BOGG] waiver and is paying for all of his classes and works a lot less than me and doesn’t get help, so it’s really hard for him now,” Sanchez said. “And if I were to put myself in his shoes, if the cost were lower… it would definitely help a lot.”

Even Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders sees the issue at hand. In his speech, “An Economic Agenda for America: 12 Steps Forward,” he talks about the cost of higher education and it’s correlation to good-paying jobs, bringing more attention to it in the political world.

According to Sanders from the speech published to his YouTube channel, “In today’s highly competitive global economy, millions of Americans are unable to afford the higher education they need in order to get good-paying jobs. Quality education in America, from childcare to higher education, must be affordable for all. Without high-quality and affordable educational system, we will be unable to compete globally and our standard of living will continue to decline.”

Most Americans spend much of their time in college working part-time jobs to make ends meet but tend to lose focus on their education causing the journey of school to take much longer than necessary.

This brings what Sanders stated to light: more people end up in low paying jobs because it’s easier to do that rather than receive a higher education since it’s too expensive.

Those who have already started taking out loans and are building their debt end up struggling for years to come in paying back what they owe while still having to endure the repercussions of a pricey education in the long run.

“Today’s borrowers should be able to refinance their student loans at much lower interest rates. This will allow millions of people to pay off their debt sooner and have more money to buy a car, buy a house or invest in their own children’s future education,” Sanders stated in a speech given at the University of Iowa.

Even presidential candidate and former First Lady Hillary Clinton has spoken out on the issues of education during a Huffington Post Democratic online debate when asked about why the issue of making college affordable has not come along as fast as other societal changes.

“I think it’s a combination of a lot of factors. Everybody is an expert on education because we all went to school. And therefore, local control means that there are millions upon millions of opinions in America about what we should do. I don’t think we have reached a consensus that reflects the reality of today,” Clinton explained.

The reality of today is that most students need to work multiple jobs in order to pay for school, causing it to take much longer to actually receive their degree. If they do receive financial aid or loans, it takes a long time to pay it back and a job in their field of interest right of college is not even guaranteed.

With at least two of our presidential candidates talking about their opinions on the cost of education and making it more affordable for students, perhaps there will be the change that we need to occur in order for students to finally go through a stress-free journey through college.

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