College, unfortunately, as we all know, is expensive. With NYU New York’s yearly costs for 2014-2015 (including tuition, housing, and insurance) hovering at about $75,000 USD and NYU Shanghai’s at about $63,000 for 2015-2016, many students have felt the pinch. America is the second most expensive country to attend college in, and having a part-time job, earning $5 to $7 USD an hour isn’t going to pay the tuition bills like it did for our parent’s generation. So, how exactly are we paying for college these days?
Sallie Mae, America’s top education financial services company, released a report in 2014 titled “How America Pays for College.” The study found that 69 percent of students will try to reduce tuition costs by attending in-state schools. These schools often have cheaper tuition for students living in the same state as the college. In addition, 61 percent of students choose to stay closer to home, and 54 percent will choose to live at home to avoid having to pay for a dorm.
Although most of America’s tuition is paid for by grants and scholarships, students still borrow money to pay for 15 percent of tuition. Though it seems like a relatively small proportion, as tuition rises, so does that 15 percent, and so does student debt – America’s class of 2015 graduated with an average of $35,051 in debt. The number has been increasing steadily year by year, and unless something is done, it’s likely to increase, even more, making students choose between an education and financial security.
Student debt may seem unimportant to many adults or wealthy students, but it is actually giving the economy huge troubles. Students with so much debt – and no stable, high-paying job – wait until later in life to buy a home, marry, and even start a business. Students might even be worse off financially after college than when they began. As a result, students are buying less than before, and poorer students are opting out of higher education. With the threat of this bleak debt-filled life hanging over the heads of many students at American universities, some have turned to creative and unconventional ways to finance their college careers.
NYU has recently experienced a surge in publicity for being the college with the most sugar babies in the U.S. A ‘sugar baby’ is a young person who is in a relationship – and being pampered by– a ‘sugar daddy’ or ‘sugar mama’. Although this reputation is undoubtedly something that NYU would like to get rid of, the fact is being a college student is expensive (especially at NYU) and getting to live a rich and cultured life is enticing. The sugar baby website Seeking Arrangement has at least 1282 registered NYU students, and it’s hard to deny that the offer is tempting. Sugar babies can make about $3,000 USD a month and can graduate debt-free, with the added luxury of the occasional nice dates and luxury vacation. For many young people, the benefits of a debt-free future life outweigh any difficulties or stigma that come with being a sugar baby.
In current U.S. politics, there are all sorts of movements and plans to decrease college tuition to encourage more enrollment and balance the economy (U.S. Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders plans to make tuition free at public colleges). Until the government decides on one, there are other ways to finance your way through college. Many students turn to scholarships, GoFundMe pages, and multiple jobs to ease their transition into a future with (hopefully) less debt. Although student debt often takes years to pay off, when it’s finally paid, it’s a cause for celebration just check out math-teacher-turned-rapper Dee-1’s song about the day he finally paid Sallie Mae Back. Even though working hard and paying off loans on your own is something to be proud of, student loans end up causing more problems than they solve. From second jobs to sugar babies, students are getting creative and working harder than ever before to succeed in the world– but the real world is hard enough without thousands of dollars of debt.