Growing up underprivileged in today’s society is hard — just ask any of the 12.7 percent of individuals that live below the poverty line in America as of 2017. But what’s even more taxing and seemingly impossible than growing up in destitution?
Try being born into these circumstances and living in a neighborhood of subpar schools with crumbling infrastructure and teachers who aren’t paid enough to care about the education they are giving. Better yet, try being met with the reality that due to a lack of funding encouraging economic growth and prosperity, a higher education is unachievable.
This is the unfortunate reality for many students enrolled in the American education system. Students in possession of incredible potential and aspirations are deterred every day because of the lack of funding for education.
In fact, according to the article “Here’s How Military and Education Spending Compare in America” written by Kyle Jaeger, the government spends eight times more on military funding than education. Because yeah, knowledge obviously isn’t power anymore and war will always be the answer.
And it’s only projected to get worse under the reign of Donald Trump. Now, it’s no secret the nation is split between those who either radically support his far-right alternative ideals or flat out hate his guts.
If you haven’t already guessed, I’m not a fan of the man. Every morning I open my hand-dandy NPR application on my phone and I am greeted with the rude awakening of his failure. Recently, my disappointment has been directed toward his, as well as the Board of Education’s, blatant disregard for struggling students relying on federal aid for higher education.
Grants such as the Pell Grant come in a variety of amounts and provide students with money that can be used for various expenses, such as housing, tuition and overall survival. Many students rely heavily on these grants and would not be capable of accessing higher education without them.
Betsy DeVos, Trump’s watchdog — I mean appointed secretary of education — expresses the desire to get rid of many other essential grants students utilize, such as Cal grants A and B. And while DeVos grudgingly accepts the existence of the Pell grant, she has voiced that she intends to reduce funding for the government subsidy by $3.9 billion. Yet this isn’t the only budget cut the department will experience.
Trump’s budget proposal for 2018 calls for a whopping $9.2 billion total cut in educational funding, a staggering 13.9 percent decrease in the current budget. They also plan to cease subsidizing interest on loans students often take out to help pay for high education, and phase out student loan forgiveness.
Those unfamiliar with these terms may be wondering why the elimination of both could spell catastrophe, as well as leave thousands of students with an unreasonable amount of school loan debt.
Subsidized loans do not charge interest to students while the students are attending higher education institutions, and are income based. Unsubsidized loans are the opposite and accumulate interest regardless of a student being currently enrolled and are not income based, i.e. available to everyone.
Say theoretically you are the product of a struggling, yet hard-working single mother (as I happen to be). Your future is dependent solely on the income of one parent who also has four older children.
Determined to go to school but lacking the money, you apply to schools that financial aid might cover the cost of tuition for. Whatever isn’t covered is received from loans with the hopes of one day being able to make enough money to pay them back. There’s also loan forgiveness, a program which, if one is lucky enough or gets a job in the right sector, will help to slowly but surely disintegrate the amount of your loans.
Under Trump, you won’t be so lucky as loan forgiveness is tossed out of the door. Despite having no income, despite working for the federal government for 10 plus years, despite contributing to the education sector as a teacher, your loans will still be awaiting repayment, destroying your credit as they accumulate, unpaid.
As a current college student, I am terrified, already drowning under the immense weight of student debt the pursuit of an education has bestowed upon me and see no resolution to the problem without the help of college students like myself. We as students need to come together and use our ability to vote and freedom of speech to fight for a future where higher education is attainable for all.