Conor Laing: Pace supports higher education

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To the editor:

I am one of the many young adults entering the world of higher education with the hope of earning a four-year college degree and giving back to this country.

I was raised in Leadville, so it was easy to fall in love with the mountains, the town, and especially Fort Lewis College. Even though my college career at The Fort is young, I have not been disappointed by my choice in school.

There is one factor I am ashamed to admit went into my calculation as to where to go to school: Cost.

An inescapable fact is that a college education is very expensive. I was mindful that, compared with many other schools in our state, Fort Lewis College is more affordable.

I am not from a wealthy family and one of my greatest fears is being unable to afford college or amassing so much debt to live in it my entire life. The problem is that even with the more affordable cost here, I am not able to afford college expenses even with just my family’s help.

This is why I am grateful to federal student aid. Without Pell Grants, Work Study, loans, and other programs, I have no idea what I would do.

And it is not just me. Many students are terrified of the cost of college, and these programs are a tremendous help. What this help means is simple: We can find some relief from worrying about financing our education and can focus on earning our degrees.

College gives us the opportunity to broaden our minds and take all we have learned and give back to our communities as productive citizens. Without the support that these programs give us it would be close to impossible to realize this dream.

Unfortunately, many members of Congress are in favor, whether they intend it or not, of making it more difficult to afford college.

From where I stand, there seems to be a belief that only the wealthy deserve to have access to the full benefit of a higher education. I say this because it is only the wealthy that have the resources necessary to be able to attend school without any federal student aid.

It is a fact of our lives that earning a full ride academic scholarship or an athletic scholarship is incredibly difficult. Local scholarships (which in my experience tend to be worth from about $250 to $1000) are incredibly helpful and we truly appreciate them but even with several of these scholarships our need is still great.

I found it disappointing that Representative Scott Tipton supported the Ryan Budget in Congress; a document that, among other things, would push many of us off federal student aid programs such as Pell Grants. I understand the need to lower our nation’s debt, but I find it frustrating that Representative Tipton’s position seems to be that my friends and my fellow students are on our own rather than members of a nation where we all look out for one another even in the hardest of times.

I find it insulting that he does not think we are worth the investment, that anything we could give back to our communities and our country in the future is not worth the money needed to help us get to that threshold today.

I believe we should support Sal Pace for Representative of Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District in this November’s election. Sal is a believer in education, and supports many of the programs I have mentioned.

He understands that we as students need support today so that we may give back to our communities - local, national, and global -tomorrow. Sal has faith that we are well worth the investment.

Many of us are willing to put in the effort it takes to earn a college degree; all we ask is to be seen as worthwhile investments, not frivolous expenses.

I hope I am wrong in my summary of Representative Tipton’s positions and that he will agree rather than refuse to debate Mr. Pace here at Fort Lewis so that he can explain his positions on higher education.

Sincerely,

Conor Laing

College Student

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