With the national student debt increasing to a new high of $1.33 trillion, students are willing to give up almost anything to eradicate their accumulated debt. A new study by the Department of Education found that 50 percent of students would be willing to give up their right to vote in exchange for having their debt erased.
Voting in free and fair elections is part of American culture. The U.S. Constitution mentions the American citizen’s right to vote four times in four different amendments, showing that the Founding Fathers felt that voting was a vital part of citizens’ natural-born rights. My mother is an immigrant herself, and once she became a citizen, she was most excited to finally be able to vote.
Voter turnout in 2016
Voting is a privilege, but it seems that it is now treated as a chore. If we look at voter turnout from the past 2016 presidential election, it is evident that voter turnout fell. Citizens used early voting more than past elections, but the turnout to voting polls dropped to 57 percent from 58.6 percent in the previous election. Americans are one of the least active voting populations in developed countries. It might be due to some barriers of voting such as voters with disabilities, no access to transport to get to polls or even just that the election is not mandatory.
So what does it say about the U.S. as a country that students are now willing to give up one of their natural-born rights?
The fact that students are willing to go to such lengths to erase debt shows exactly what’s wrong with higher education. Students are taught that they must get good SAT or ACT scores and go to college, and they must do so despite the financial price in order to ensure a prosperous future. But at what cost? While giving up the right to vote was only a theoretical question, the fact that half of students surveyed answered that they would give it up is still troubling.
Higher education is simply too expensive. The cost has increased due to factors such as schools having to pay more to market themselves, the costs of maintaining buildings, faculty compensation, easy-to-access student loans, and amenities. All of these factors fuel the college experience and are the contributing factors to higher costs. But higher education needs to be re-evaluated, as does voting. Is the cost of a degree worth the student debt, and why has voting not maintained its urgency?
Priorities within this country need to be re-examined. A degree is worth something, but not the amount of debt that we become enslaved to. Voting is a privilege and our job as U.S. citizens. No student should ever feel swayed to give up that privilege in order to have their mounds of debt disappear.
Have something to add to this story? Comment below or join the discussion on Facebook.
Header image: Adobe Stock