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Political Mayhem Wreaks Havoc on Higher Education


Nearly a year ago, PBS published an article that examined the concerns of the pending fiscal cliff and the need for the President and Congress to agree on numerous budget cuts and tax adjustments. One of the concerns at that time was the impact of the fiscal cliff on education. Well, it is a year later and although the nation was able to defer the doom associated with the fiscal cliff, we still find ourselves in a situation where the status quo in Washington has placed the education of many in doubt. 

Education and Politics
American citizens are constantly reminded of the manner in which politics and education are inextricably bound. Last year it was the fiscal cliff that had educators fearing the worst – now it is a government shutdown. As politicians play there little games in Washington, they leave their constituents grasping for air as they struggle to maintain. Thousands of government workers are left without jobs indefinitely. College students are being confronted with the possibility discontinuing their studies due to the financial impact of the government's failure to sustain itself.

The Education Department and Beyond 

PBS's article pointed to the fact that the strain placed on educational institutions and students went beyond the budgeting issues directly associated with the Education Department. For instance, the lack of funding in other government programs such as after school care program funding, as well other subsidies that allowed students to attend higher education institutions despite current hardships.

As students experience these hardships it has a broad reaching impact on their studies. If a single mother has to come out of her pocket for daycare that was being subsidized by the government, it could mean that she would be forced to work more hours to cover the cost or be forced to drop out of school because of the lack of adequate childcare.

An Uneven Playing Field

Higher education is supposed to be the great equalizer. It has the capacity to empower those who come from substandard socioeconomic conditions to compete with those who come from more affluent backgrounds. Unfortunately, this shutdown disproportionately impacts those that are fall below the poverty line. Studies reveal that more than 70 percent of college students that are living on their own live below the poverty line. This means that they are not in a position to take up the slack caused by the lapse in funding that the government shutdown has created.

While politicians continue to point the finger at one another, students are being forced to face some painfully tough decisions. Some students have very few options. While some have the option of taking out a personal loan from family members that can be paid back without interest, others will be forced to either take out more student loans – putting them deeper in and debt and further behind the break-free curve – or to drop their studies until the resources are available.

Viable Alternatives

While students search for resolutions to the dyer situations they face, one simple alternative stands at the forefront of all the madness. Some students have the option of withdrawing from major universities and on ground campuses and enrolling in online campuses. Online schools such as Vista College are designed to meet the needs of those students who are facing the type of challenges brought on by the government shut down.

The online environment creates flexibility for the single parent that has lost their daycare support; it also allows the student to work at their own pace – relieving some of the tension that can be associated with an on ground campus. Vista College also has the resources to help students with tuition assistance. In many cases, there a special scholarships that will not require repayment. There is so much uncertainty involved with the government shutdown, but schools such as Vista College provide a viable alternative.
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