Editorial: Dodging Debt

Casey Orledge/THE REVIEW
Tuition for higher education is at an all time high and continues to rise every year. This increasing cost of an education is not only a social injustice but it will eventually cripple our nation and prevent our democracy from flourishing with an education electorate.

The cost of university has turned higher education into a pay-to-play scheme where only the rich and the well-off can afford to buy the services necessary to set them up for a prosperous career. This socioeconomic privilege can even be seen in the stunning lack of diversity on display around our own campus and the cold, calculating methodology used by the university’s Office of Admissions in deciding who has the opportunity to pursue an education here.

All around the country, high school seniors are preparing to apply to their preferred colleges and universities in the coming months. Unfortunately, it won’t be their GPA, SAT scores or even their drive to succeed that will ultimately determine where they will spend the next four years of their life. It is how much money they can afford to spend on a college diploma. We have chosen to accept as normal that if you do not have rich parents, certain universities will always be off limits simply because of their cost.

An education is something that this country has always valued. Horace Mann, an early education reformer, is well known as calling education the great equalizer of men.

We also pride ourselves on being the land of opportunity. Americans have prided themselves on their puritanical work ethic and the idea that as long as you work hard and live an honest life, you will be able to forge a better life for yourself and your family.

With college tuition costing an all-time high and the vast majority of well-paying jobs in America requiring either a four year degree or certifications for a specialized trade, we are no longer the land of opportunity. The best jobs and the good life is reserved for those who can afford to pay their way through life from the day they are born.

When then-presidential candidate and current Senator Bernie Sanders proposed to make public university “tuition free,” his plan was called unrealistic and too expensive. But the estimated cost of his plans was a fraction of the amount that our federal government has spent on overseas wars in the past 16 years.

The truth of the matter is that we cannot continue on as we are. We are faced with a national income inequality crisis that will only perpetuate itself if the poor are unable to get a quality education.

Conservatives are right. It is imperative that we give everyone in this country a fair chance to succeed in life. We cannot do that without making sure that all levels of education — from elementary to graduate degrees — are financially accessible. If only they would agree that such a guarantee must apply to everyone, regardless of race, color or creed.

We have to do better.

Editorials are developed by The Review’s Editorial Board, led this week by Investigative Editor Jacob Orledge. He can be reached at orledgej@udel.edu.

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