A cry to the 41 million with student debt:

TELL US YOUR STORY

I write this inaugural post to The Graduates as student debt in the United States reaches $1.3 trillion dollars — a figure that has hardly gone unnoticed, but that may still surprise many. President Obama most recently addressed the growing student debt problem in his State of the Union Address, in which he proposed the idea of tuition-free community college.

While we applaud the recognition of a problem and believe the concept of tuition-free public higher education is something to explore, it will do little to help the 41 million Americans currently indebted to universities, private loan providers, and the federal government. Further, tuition-free higher education would not necessarily solve many of the other problems entrenched in our current system of education, including:

  1. Rising tuition costs;
  2. Low college graduate rates — while more than 70 percent of Americans matriculate at a four-year college, only 53 percent actually graduate. For a worldly comparison, that puts us one step above Hungary; and
  3. A general lack of college readiness, which continues to remain a major barrier to low income students —for example, research has shown that high-achieving low income students are reluctant to apply to the selective colleges that would provide them with greater academic resources, increased financial aid, and better career opportunities.

But you cannot fix a problem you fail to identify.

This publication will attempt to do just that.

We at The Graduates want to know what those 41 million Americans (and counting) — who have applied, enrolled, and borrowed — would change about the current system. It could be something as small as allowing the inclusion of pet care into a student’s cost of living budget — one of my personal pleas — to something as big as what President Obama calls for: tuition-free higher education. We also want to tell the true, real stories of U.S. education’s successes, failings, and everything in between. We want to show the faces of the 41 million.

Our ultimate goal is to correctly identify some of the current problems and offer solutions. At the very least, we want to open the discussion up to those people who have been or are currently affected by U.S. education policies.

Help us by sending your thoughts, stories, or photos to thegraduates2015@gmail.com.

The Graduates publication was founded in Washington, D.C. by a Vermont Law School graduate.

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