Is it All that Difficult to Enter the Middle-Class or Above in the Current American System?
Regardless of race, gender, class background, family structure/background, ect. ect, is it all that difficult to enter the Middle-Class or above in the current American system. That is, is there any genuine need to live a life of poverty in America (for an extended period of time--on the scale of decades)?
Note: The Middle-Class in 2016 defined by Pew Research Center was those earning 67-200% of the median income (per household), or $39,560-$118,080.
Now, given our current system, everyone has enough opportunity to find a way to attend a College for an Engineering, Statistics, Computer Science, Business, ect. degree that would potentially set them up for at least decent to good paying jobs after graduation. Even a completely poor person has an opportunity for this since there are Government Stafford Loans that everyone qualifies for, regardless of credit history, no co-signer needed, and is enough to first attend a Community College plus apartment (if you work part-time also) and later to a State School program or even to a University of Florida type school (depending on the tuition of the big state school program in one's respective state). From there, PhD programs are free, in fact, they pay you a stipend to attend. This is enough to set someone up for life (if used wisely--and they can ultimately get into nearly any major University by Grad School regardless of what they are confined to/able to attend for Undergraduate degree). Here are important points to note about the University system in the US (in regards to this topic):
1. There is a clear hierarchy in Academia, and it is wise to understand the "Game" in order to best play it
2. No matter what your previous grades/schooling have been like, there are ways you can still get into virtually any level program for your Undergrad still (including the Elite level schools)
3. No matter what Undergrad program you go to, there are ways to go to virtually any Grad School Program
3. Even if your financial resources are limited, there are ways to get into good schools and be able to pay for it all the way up through PhD
4. The level of school you attend is going to greatly effect how difficult the courses are, and thus the GPA you will be able to get
a) Community College will be at a very reasonable level of difficulty as will a Public State School Program
b) A school around the 100-150 level (national rank) will definitely be noticeably more challenging than CC or State School (for the same program)
c) A school around the 50 level will be very challenging and completely different than CC or State School level
d) A school at the Elite level (roughly the top 20) would require one to be at an elite level for that stage in order to pass (top few% or so of people inclined for that technical subject at that level)
5. In the modern era, there are countless resources available that thoroughly teach any given technical subject area for free or a limited fee, and would prove to be an invaluable asset in learning said material (either for formal training/school or self-study).
Now, if a person's true interests lie in Art History however since they are coming from a poor economic background, one would have enough money (if used wisely) to first get a degree in a practical subject (e.g. Business, Engineering, ect.) that would set them up with a decent/good paying job which they could function as a stepping stone and safety net that allows them to go back to College for the subject matter they are truly interested in and pursue that career path henceforth.
This is to say, although the current system is far from optimal and certainly does not have "equality of opportunity" in a strict sense, there currently are ways to reach the highest level outcomes even from the bottom of US society for anyone. Now, Stafford Loans are flawed (in my view) since the amount of money you are eligible to receive is only compatible with a State-School of low college ranking (unless you happen to live in a state such as Florida where the major Public University were only about $7000 tuition per year). However, if Stafford Loans (Government Loans) were expanded to say the Graduate school level of $18,000-20,000 per year (rather than $12,000) than regardless of State one is in, family financial background, ect. ect., any person would be afforded "Equality of Opportunity" as it pertained to going to College as they would have the means to attend a Major University for their Undergrad which opens the door for the highest possibilities after that point (i.e. to follow ones intellectual interests as a career path and/or acquire the credentials needed to land a high paying job--depending on what the individual values more). Furthermore, Stafford Loans apply to Trade Schools as well. Therefore, any person who is savvy enough to play the "game" wisely could either (A) attain even the highest levels of education in Academia (B ) attend a Trade School & get solid job training to become an Electrician, Plumber, Carpenter, ect. ect. which typically is 1-2 year programs that cost between $1000-$10,000 total and sets them up with a job which on average earn about $50,000 a year (a solid income).
Now, one of the staples of America is (ostensibly) the open/fair opportunity for all citizens toward economic/class mobility (up & down the latter) based upon how savvy they are at "playing the game" as well as how hard they are willing to work for their "spot". Stafford Loans (as current) go a long way toward fulfilling that "staple social contract" of America & if it were expanded just a bit more than currently, then it would completely satisfy that "social contract". Also, this would eliminate all arguments to the contrary--as in, nobody would be able to claim that "the system is holding them down perpetually" as it would be overtly false. Note, this also wouldn't cost much more at all compared to now, as it is only a several thousand dollar extension that (very likely) most people would not be savvy enough to capitalize on anyway. Compare that to the "Free College" program promoted by the Social Dems. that would be mandated in tax dollars, regardless of who is or is not using the system (which would cost orders of magnitude more money to fund in tax-payers' dollars). This would actually objectively create quite a "fair" socio-economic system as everyone has equal access to this opportunity regardless of race/class/gender/family structure/ect. ect. & it would be up to them (the individual) to do with it what they will (Note: it already is like that--however, as I explained previously, simply expanding this ever so slightly more would make an enormous difference (for reasons I explained)).
Here is a link to the Stafford Loan program in the US: https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/types/l...dized#how-much
Remember, the Classes are defined by a three-person household standard. That is, a married couple and child (or less--e.g. independent individual, ect.). Now, a household with one member that had a Trade degree (and corresponding Profession) as an Electrician, Plumber, Carpenter, ect. would make on average $50,000 and therefore would be part of the middle-class. If two members of the household had a similar background (or above), then they would be at the 6-figure income mark.
This begs the question, what keeps people in lifelong poverty? It is certainly understandable to go through significant rough-patches at a point or points (particularly & obviously when in their youth and still attempting to establish oneself, or being laid off from a job/position, and many other potential circumstances, ect. ect.). However, if one were approaching 40 years old for instance, and below the poverty line their entire life, why not utilize government loans and attend a Trade school for $1000-$10,000 total for and within 1-2 years they could be earning on average $50,000? Or, likewise, attend College for the first time or go back for a practical degree that would earn them a solid income?