The Great Recession of 2008 that rocked the United States for more than a year made many aspects of life difficult for Americans, including the decision to attend a four-year college program. With college tuition prices mounting, it was helpful for many that there was also an increase in the amount of federal aid offered during the time of and right after the recession.

For the first time, though, the increase in cost in college tuition for public schools is finally slowing down after three decades of rising costs. However, despite this deceleration in college costs, there has also been stagnation in increases of federal aid, resulting in a rise in college net prices. This means that the amount of money students and their families actually pay after they receive their financial aid has increased.

With more students accruing debt, and having difficulties paying it off, there is need for a basic revision of repayment programs. In a paper for The Brookings Institution’s Hamilton Project proposing to make the borrowing process better for students, authors Susan M. Dynarski and Daniel Kreisman say, “We do not have a debt crisis but rather a repayment crisis.” They point to the current system as not working for our country’s students as much as it should or could be [PDF Link]. They suggest that student loans should work similarly to the way we pay into Social Security, in that, depending on how much money they are making, a certain amount would be deducted from students’ paychecks to pay off their student loans.

While the aforementioned proposal is an option in some current loan repayment plans, it is not as widely used as it could be. Thankfully, the topic is not being ignored: The president has addressed the situation of student debt and financial aid as well. The White House budget for 2015 also indicates new measures to help make higher education more affordable and yield greater benefits.

While at the moment students are paying more than they ever had before, there is a bright spot on the horizon. A balance between the cost of tuition and the amount of aid students receive will hopefully be struck in the near future, making a college education more affordable for more people.

Did You Know?

Winning college scholarships can come from some interesting places. Fastweb is a site that helps students find colleges and scholarships. The website links students looking for college payment help to not only “normal” scholarships like the Student of the Month scholarship, but also to some less traditional scholarships. Many celebrities, for instance, give out thousands of dollars every year to students who meet their requirements.

Some other unique scholarships include ones for tall people, science fiction writers, students pursuing vacuum coating and avid recyclers. Fastweb and other sites like it illustrate that if a student is willing to do some extra legwork and get creative, there are many ways to help with paying for college.