Unaffordable College Costs Strengthens Class Warfare in America

Growing up in a single parent home in Baltimore City, college expectations were slim for me. I didn’t want to have mountains of debt that I could be paying for half of my life and I knew that my mother couldn’t afford to send me to college without the accumulation of debt herself. So, I decided to go through an apprenticeship program and in 2008 I was able to complete the five year apprenticeship through the IBEW (International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers) Local 24 with a Journeyman Electrician Certification.

Deciding to further my education, in early 2009, I enrolled in BCCC (Baltimore City Community College) part-time. After 3 years of hard work and commitment, I am entering my last semester at BCCC. This journey has been rewarding, but also expensive. After tuition, registration fees, consolidated fees, and facility capital fees, I accumulated bills exceeding eight thousand dollars ($8,000.00). This doesn’t include the cost of school books; over two thousand five hundred dollars ($2,500.00). Many students and parents that are paying for 4 year colleges have stated “that was a cheap price to pay and wait to see your bills from a four year college”.

I find myself fortunate to be able to come out of high school and find an employer such as the IBEW, who placed me in the middle class by paying a living wage, affordable health care, and a respectable retirement program. I am fortunate because I could cut back on spending to allow myself an extra three thousand ($3,000.00) plus dollars to accommodate furthering my education, when the reality is the majority of our country doesn’t have that option.

The options are there, but they are limited to:

• Receiving scholarships to attend college

• Receiving loans to attend college, and possibly having the responsibility of paying mountains of debt over your life span.

• Your parents receiving loans for you to attend college, and possibly having the responsibility of paying mountains of debt over their life span.

• Not going to college

• Having rich parents that can pay for you to attend college with cash money

• Waiting to establish a career, and then attending college

The reality is that many of us don’t have wealthy parents and a small percentage of us will attend school on full scholarships. That leaves the majority of the population left with the three options of not going to school, taking out loans, or waiting later in life to be able to pay for school. The latter three options weaken the middle-class, and place a greater division between the wealthy and those in poverty.

In a country where further education is championed to compete in the world economy, this is totally unacceptable. The cost of college is always increasing and becoming unaffordable to most. If we are truly a country that aspire to inspire the next scientist, doctor, and engineer, then we must begin to look for alternative ways to make college affordable to all, not some. If we are truly a country that aspires to restore the middle-class, then we must begin to find alternative ways to make college affordable to all, not some.

Wake up America! If we don’t, we will find our children with enormous debt from college costs never seeking the opportunities to further their education. Even worse we will never witness an ending cycle of generations that can never achieve the American dream!

You can visit Cory at corymccray.com and Young Trade Unionists