Opinion: Gen eds is pushing college students into debt more unnecessarily every day

The average student pays $20,000 in tuition each year. Without excessive general education requirements and irrelevant credits, this cost could be cut almost in half.

College is expensive no matter who pays. Whether it is the parents or the students themselves, it is often difficult to make ends meet. Parents may have saved for 18 years and still do not have enough to cover their child’s tuition and living costs, especially if they have more than one dependent child. Students take out loans, which they will still be burdened with years after graduation. According to the College Ave Loan Survey, out of 1,100 students, 41% pay for their education themselves. There will always be fees for higher education, but by removing redundant gen eds and “filler” credits, those fees could be much more manageable.

I worked hard in high school, completing several dual credit courses to hopefully shorten my time in college. Last year, when I was a freshman, I was thrilled to learn that BHSU had reduced the GED requirements by 11 credits. It meant less time and less money, however, reading the fine print I realized that was not the case. The total number of credits required for graduation remains the same, so additional optional credit may be required. All that hard work, finishing all but three of my classes, just to have to pay for random classes that have nothing to do with my degree.

University students pay approximately $200 per credit hour, per course. Most undergraduates must take between 40 and 60 generic credits; on average from a third to a half of their degree. This means that students pay at least $8,000 for courses that may not even be related to their majors.

Yes, there are a variety of loans, grants and scholarships available, but most of the time it is still not enough. A statistic provided by sources including the Federal Reserve, the College Board, and the Institution for College Access and Success, there is $1.75 trillion in total student loan debt in the United States (including public schools and private). This is an average of $29,958 owed per borrower. Generally, student loans are structured to be repaid in ten years, but it has been found that it usually takes an average of 21 years or more.

Others try to afford college and the extra cost of living while in school. In 2017, the US Department of Education reported that 81% of part-time students and 43% of full-time students were employed while enrolled. In fact, most working students reported doing at least 20 hours of work per week in addition to 12+ hours of classes and homework. Not only is this physically taxing, but it can be mentally detrimental.

That’s not to say classes like math and English aren’t important, but if they’re so important, why aren’t they taught in high school? High school is after all supposed to prepare you for life whether or not you go to college. And if it is taught in high school, isn’t it redundant to repeat it in college? Most trade schools, or those that offer technical certifications, do not require any additional courses beyond those directly necessary for their career. Why should it be any different for someone looking for a career in marketing or accounting?

Between tuition, fees, cost of living, and meals, college often comes at a substantial price. And for those seeking a graduate degree, that price will continue to rise. That’s how the world works, but with just a few changes, that price might seem a bit more affordable.