Every year on the Saturday before Thanksgiving, Montana and MSU renew the heated Cat-Griz rivalry game, The Brawl of the Wild. During this week students in Missoula and Bozeman are pitted against each other, but there is one issue many college students in Montana and across the nation have in common: student loan debt. This debt follows students out of college and can become crippling financially.
One of the many factors driving the student debt crisis is the increasing cost of tuition throughout the United States. According to CNBC, the average yearly tuition for a student attending a public university rose 213% between the years 1987 and 2017, from $3,190 to $9,970. This increase has made it much harder for Americans to pay for a four-year degree out of pocket, leading many to rely on hefty loans to pay for school. To address this issue, there are many short term and long term solutions that could benefit students financially.
Trade schools provide valuable hands-on opportunities for students at a much more reasonable price than public universities. By incentivizing more Americans to attend trade schools, we could close the gap in skilled trades while also ensuring fewer students enter the workforce with serious financial burdens.
A more preventative measure for the issue of student debt is to ensure students are as financially informed as possible. Some states currently have legislation that aims to address the issue of financial literacy. In South Carolina, SB 405 would require every student to take a personal finance class to graduate high school. Bills like this could help students fully grasp the decisions they are making as they address college finances.
Perhaps the most popular solution among younger Americans to the debt crisis is to forgive student debt entirely. If congress wanted to, it could put forth legislation that would wipe all student loan debt off the board, which would bring financial relief to many Americans and spark economic growth, according to some economists. Another way congress could go about assisting future student debt is to work toward a system of universal education that encompasses universities similar to the way many European nations do. In Germany, for example, each citizen now pays a moderate tax to receive free university education.
By many means, we can ensure student debt becomes a problem of the past. Whether we choose to address this issue at a state or federal level or in a preventative or responsive way, it’s time to work to end the debt crisis in America.