A college degree is mandatory. Today, it is the equivalent of a high school diploma. Yes, college can be expensive. Yes, students are drowning in student loan debt. We all want to blame the universities for charging such an exuberant price, but what if I told you I blame the student. As an independent admissions counselor, I see the same scenario played out time and time again. A student is accepted to a state school and receives federal funds. In Georgia, we also have merit-based scholarships, Hope and Zell Miller. Local students are eligible to receive these scholarships and many times it will reduce their tuition drastically. Combine the Zell Miller scholarship with federal aid with the reduced tuition of a state school and what you have is many Georgia students going on a free ride to college.
Zell Miller Scholarship + federal aid + reduced tuition of a state school = FREE RIDE TO COLLEGE
That’s right, a free ride courtesy of Georgia! Countless times, I see the student turn down the Zell Miller Scholarship, turn down the free ride to a local Georgia university, and instead attend their “dream school” with a $60K per year price tag and no funding offered. After 4 years, their student loan debt is over $200K and the student complain. When people hear $200K in student loan debt, they are all outraged! The parents are outraged, the students are outraged, and the media is outraged. My question is: whose fault is this? If I told you I was buying a multi-million dollar house, that I could not afford, would you feel the same outrage?The reality is that students need to attend a university they can afford. Plain and simple. Parents need to educate their children on what it means to take on large amounts of debt. Like Georgia, many states have similar merit-based scholarships that are offered to students. It is possible to attend a good university at a price you can afford.