By Jackquelyn Brown
College tuition is too high. With Trump proposing a budget for 2018 that would cut $3.9 billion from Pell grants, we are going to see another rendition of the pre-1940s when only the rich could afford a higher education, except now it will be the rich and the military.
Pell grants are federally aided funds that are given to college students in need, and 90 percent of recipients are from families that do not make $40,000 a year. So, consider that $200 or even $500 a month that you are thinking about stashing away monthly for your future child gone after their first year, thanks to ever-rising tuition costs.
In Texas from 2002 to 2015, tuition at public colleges has increased an average of 147 percent, according to calculations by The Texas Tribune. Despite heightened costs, universities have not responded with upgraded facilities, nor has federal minimum wage reflected the need for more funds.
There is a simple answer to why this is so, but also a messy, complex and hard to comprehend explanation with the details, but we will take the shortcut to the point. With the federal government shaming colleges for high tuition costs, the colleges respond by jacking up the price exponentially to supposedly suffice for the lack of funding from the state, whom they blame when the Feds call them out. Everyone blames everyone else, now spearheaded first and foremost by Trump, and no one wants to take responsibility and bite the bullet to keep higher education available to lower-income individuals and families.
Regarding Pell grants, USA Today reported “The program has been around since 1972, and the Trump administration says slashing its funding ‘safeguards’ its survival for the next decade.”
When I graduate this May, after the three years I have been here at SMU, I will be $23,000 in debt. That is on top of the Pell grant, which does not have to be paid back, as well as numerous other grants for being a poor, emancipated minor that never had my parents financial backing like more than half of this school’s population has. So I am a special case and still have the same amount of debt due as the cost of a down payment on a small house. I will start paying $140 per month starting January in 2018, and at that rate, I will have 13 years of student loans to pay off. You read that correctly, and that is only for less than three years of loans during college at SMU. If I have children in the next five or six years, I will still be paying off student loans by the time they start school, which is when I should be stashing away money for their future. These problems begin to overlap and become messier and messier until someone puts a stop to it.
This is nothing in comparison to what our future generations will have to face if we lose Pell grants while tuition keeps getting higher. It will only get worse if Trump’s proposal to slash the 2018 budget passes.
Jackquelyn Brown is a Senior majoring in Journalism and minoring in Photography.