Monday, May 30, 2016

Education and The Poor.

One of the drums that conservatives like to beat, is that if you want to make more money, just go get an education. Well if you're poor, or come from a Low-Income Family your options for an education beyond high school could be limited to almost non-existent. You could maybe go through the military and get the G.I. Bill if you live in the United States, you could get grants and loans, but if you're poor, loans could be hard to get. When the average debt by the time you graduate is $28,950 or more, and when you're already starting with nothing can seem like a very large mountain to have to climb. Doubly so when you know there isn't a guarantee that you will get a job that will pay you enough to pay off the debt.

Unemployment rates, by age group, and completed education:
Selected years, 2000-2014 Source:
The GOP would like you to think that student debt is something you can pay off quickly because a college or University level education will get you that job faster yet the facts don't bear that out. Although those with a higher education will hold their jobs longer, and do have a higher rate of employment, that doesn't mean they are getting their jobs any faster. Even though the jobless rate is the lowest it's been in years, at about 5.4% those that graduate from college or university have an unemployment rate of about 14.2% although an improvement from the 15.4% at last year around this time. It's still way higher than the national average by about 10%. The job market really isn't any better than it would be for those who have only graduated from high school. 

However if you hare coming from a family that is already low-income you can't really afford to wait for the right opportunity, you have to just take what you can get when it gets offered to you. Which is why so many graduates are taking jobs that they are very over qualified for until they can find that "dream job" with the great pay. Although getting a college level education is always going to get you better opportunities it doesn't guarantee them. For those students that are low income it means they are doing work study programs or they are working a full time job while also going to school as either part time, or less likely full time students. It will take a low-income student twice as long to graduate because they have to fill that finance gap that loans and grants don't cover. Low-income students have to pay rent, and bills, and still buy food. So the path of better education is going to be harder than that of a middle class or upper class student. Low-Income students don't get to take spring break, or take the summer off, they have to go to school year around, they have to keep working during their school downtime. 

So when you have presidential candidates that are promoting a full ride for everyone. That's good news for Low-income students. #FeelTheBern has more meaning for the low income individual and low income families because he is a beacon of hope, that maybe hopefully they might not have to struggle quite as much has they have in the past. 

I'll be talking about this more on The SkyPilot Weekly Podcast this coming Sunday (June 5th).