With a college degree in one hand and 4+ years of academic success behind them, college graduates may have more trouble finding a job than they think. How can graduates recover from an all-time high student debt of $1 trillion when the California minimum wage is a mere $10.50 and college price tags continue to rise?

Simply put college is worth the cost.

The majority of 17-24-year-olds have a chunk of that $1 trillion debt to pay off after graduation day. The solution? A college degree. Those with a college degree make upwards of $18,000 more than a typical high school graduate. This is, of course, assuming that college graduates will land a job right after graduation day. With competition increasingly growing, it has become more difficult to escape the dreaded debt that college places on its graduates.

Typically, salaries increase for those who have spent the most money on their education aka the higher the cost of your education, the more money you’ll make in the long run. If everyone could attend an Ivy League of their choice then wouldn’t everyone be making the most money? Ideally yes, but with tuition rates continuing to rise, today’s salaries simply aren’t high enough to bring college students out of debt, let alone allow everyone to attend college. From an economic standpoint, the wage gap has continued to grow, which means there still aren’t enough college graduates to fill that gap.

How can we make college more accessible and affordable to those who want it then? Higher level education should never seem untouchable to those who make their living off of minimum wage. The pay gap for minimum wage has fallen so the gap between the lower class and those with higher incomes has continued to grow.

Opportunity has polarized our nation and a degree has become the determining factor of how successful one can be. Of course, a degree cannot guarantee success, but as the economy continues to fluctuate, college becomes less affordable. This means that the same college students who are struggling to pay off student loans may not be able to afford to send their own children to the college of their dreams.

Statistically speaking, those who do not attend college will face a greater debt than those who have to pay off student debt and loans. Yes, this is a much larger scale problem than it seems; it’s not a matter of choosing higher level education or settling for a diploma, going to college can determine the future of generations.

The cost of college alone and the debt that graduates face has led many young students to not consider attending. With an education system that does not grant equal opportunities to all of its students, the lack of opportunity within the United States has singlehandedly created the debt and wage deficit. The rising price tag of a college degree has left many young adults jobless and trapped within inescapable debt.

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