I went through school, I worked my way through, it took me seven years, I never borrowed a dime of money. He borrowed a little bit because we both were totally on our own when we went to college, totally. [...] I have very little tolerance for people who tell me that they graduate with $200,000 of debt or even $80,000 of debt because there’s no reason for that. We live in an opportunity society and people are forgetting that. I remind folks all the time that the Declaration of Independence says “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” You don’t have it dumped in your lap.The above quoted belongs to House Representative Virginia Foxx (R-NC), who probably didn't notice (or care to notice) how student tuition has risen over the past decade. Still, you have to admire someone who has the brass ovaries to deliver the most viciously polite form of "fuck you, got mine" to date. Very brassy for a woman who has a minimum of $500,000 in mortgages on two houses, according to her 2010 financial disclosure statements.
States have cut their higher education funding. The federal government's considering cuts to Pell Grants. Colleges everywhere are raising their tuition rates and employment opportunities remain scarce. Unless you luck out and get a scholarship or have your parents/endowment/inheritance/sugar daddy/corporate sponsor helping you out, student loans are your only port of entry on the voyage of college education.
Virginia Ann Foxx graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill back in 1968 with a bachelors degree and attained her Masters degree in 1972. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the average cost of a four-year university during 1968-1969 was around $1,245 per year. Adjusted for inflation, that amounts to $7714. Today, it'll cost you $20,660 for a year of full-time study (including room and board) if you're a N.C. resident and over $41,000 if you're not. Meanwhile, Harvard tuition costs add up to $53,000 per year, $36,000 if you cut out room and board. Little wonder some people are walking around with over $200k of student loan debt.
Foxx says she worked her way through school. With the average cost of tuition and the wages offered by most part-time jobs, students who go at it that way will be lucky to pay for food and books. It's possible to cut corners here and there, but it doesn't add up to much. I lucked out with Pell Grants, cheap in-state tuition and cut out the room and board costs by staying close to home for the last two years of college. I also had a part-time job that didn't do much against my overall tuition bill, but it helped with food and books. If you split the apartment rent with roommates, eat beans and rice and refrain from silly shit like iPads, spinning rims* and the like, you'll be able to survive. Barely.
You'll still need student loans for the vast majority of your tuition costs, unless you find spending five years of less-than-part time matriculation at a community college for a two-year associates degree to be more your thing. Not that there's anything wrong with that**.
If Foxx thinks having $200k of student loan debt is unacceptable, then perhaps she could do her part to help lower the cost of college tuition around the country. After all, she happens to chair the House Subcommittee on Higher Education.
* I've seen students take the leftovers of their student loans and buy some of the silliest shit imaginable.
** Most jobs require a bachelors degree, at minimum.