We can’t live without degrees — but we can’t afford them, either

With degrees being unaffordable and jobs being impossible to obtain, how can students make a living? | Ruth Santana, PantherNOW

Ruth Santana | Contributing Writer

Having a degree is a necessity when entering today’s job market, but at what cost? The consequences of pursuing a degree, financial or personal, could be minimized if college was free.

The cost of tuition at colleges and universities can have a devastating effect on students in the form of debt and financial stress. This can lead to mental health issues, holding off on plans and sacrificing a fulfilling career for a high-paying one.

The cost of higher education has steadily risen over the past twenty years, along with the cost of supplies, housing, transportation and food. The average student loan debt in America between 2021 and 2022 was $29,400. 

This is a huge burden for college students since the majority of us work minimum-wage jobs and can barely afford anything as it is.

Mental health issues such as anxiety, depression and suicidal thoughts are more prevalent among student loan borrowers. This can have a tremendous effect on the day-to-day life of a student, also leading to other health issues such as high blood pressure, strokes and heart attacks. This is a tell-tale sign that something needs to change. 

Approximately 63% of Americans are in favor of making college tuition free and it’s not the craziest thought. Especially since full-time jobs aren’t a guarantee after graduation.

The benefits of implementing this would be greater access to education, a healthier economy, reduced loan debt and a larger workforce. 

Although scholarships, financial aid and college plans are helpful, they aren’t enough to relieve most students. 

Scholarships and financial aid are not guaranteed and college plans, for example, Florida Pre-paid, only apply to in-state institutions. All of these options usually only cover a portion of tuition.

Also due to the growth in different areas such as; technology, health care, data management and research, there is a higher demand for workers with a bachelor’s or master’s degree. 

With degrees being unaffordable and jobs being impossible to obtain, how can students make a living?

Having greater access to education would not only benefit the economy but also give graduates a better chance at making a livable wage. Reducing the burden of debt would increase homeownership, small businesses and community involvement. 

Notably, implementing this would result in higher taxes, overcrowding and the risk of a reduction in the quality of education. In the grand scheme, these risks are solvable.

There is increased support for higher wages for teachers, possibly leading to a rise in future educators, holding up the current standard of education or improving it. The issue of overcrowding can be solved through the use of online classes. 

Tuitionless education can also improve the economy by increasing the amount of money college students and graduates can spend and save, stimulating the economy. The increase in supply and demand could also lead to more employment opportunities. 

With the rise in the cost of living and the rapid pace at which America’s middle class is disappearing, it is time to start implementing free university, to create a prosperous future for ourselves and future students.  


The opinions presented on this page do not represent the views of the PantherNOW Editorial Board. These views are separate from editorials and reflect individual perspectives of contributing writers and/or members of the University community.

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