In 2014, American college students will graduate with an average of $29,000 in debt. In American culture, this is a hard truth that anyone looking to gain a college education must face. But this year, Germany has said enough with college debt, eliminating tuition fees. This is not a new concept for European countries. Sweden, Norway, and Denmark have all eliminated college tuition fees in recent years. According to popular opinion in pertinent regions, college tuition fees are unjust. Students feel that socioeconomic status should not be a limiting factor in regards to education. Local and national politics have been influenced by a surge in support for the removal of tuition fees. College aged students have historically been the lowest percentage of voters, so politicians seeking to gain support have advocated for lower tuition.
Until recently, American college students were paying reasonable fees to attend state universities. But since the 2008 recession, states have severely cut public spending on universities. In 2011, state spending on public universities was at a 25-year low and the cost of attending a four-year college had risen by 70% over the last decade. Student loan debt is currently the second highest type of consumer debt in the country, trailing only mortgage debt. As a result of cut state funding and increased tuition, class size has increased and universities are looking to out of state and international students who are able to pay full tuition.
One troubling development in the American education landscape is the emergence of for-profit schools. Despite their claims of providing affordable education, for-profits have both excessive prices and abysmal graduation rates. For-profit schools are responsible for thirty percent of student debt in the country. These organizations attract one out of ten students, luring them away from community colleges and trapping them in a mountain of debt. Funding cuts have also hurt the number of students community colleges support. Many students are now forced onto an extensive wait list. As the cost of a college education continues to rise, more and more college students will be forced to take out larger loans to attend school.