This "Back to the Future" Meme Nails the Absurdity of Your College Costs

October 21st 2015

October 21, 2015 is #FutureDay, which is the day Marty McFly and Doc Brown traveled from the past to the future in "Back to the Future II."

In honor of the beloved "Back to the Future" franchise, ATTN: decided to look into a key difference between 1985 and today: the cost of college tuition.

The below meme perfectly describes the problem with today's outrageous tuition fees—contrasting the average cost of attending college today versus in 1985, when the movie takes place:

"Back To The Future" meme"Back To The Future" meme

It's no secret that college costs have steadily risen over the past few decades, but overtime, the increases have made higher education unaffordable for many young Americans—and has left many with mounds of student debt. During the late 1970s, you could pay for a year of in-state tuition at a university by working a minimum wage job full-time for seven full weeks. In 2015, however, a student must work 27 whole 40-hour work weeks to earn enough money for a year's worth of in-state tuition.


As ATTN: partner Our Time put it in a meme, you could pay for a full year of in-state college tuition by working a full-time summer job for minimum wage:


Rising tuition goes hand-in-hand with America's student debt crisis. In June 2014, the Economist reported that U.S. student debt had reached $1.2 trillion, "with more than 7 [million] people in default." According to CNN Money, student loan debt has increased by nearly 85 percent since the recession. The average student loan debt balance is nearly $30,000, a jump from $23,000 in 2008. There are currently 40 million Americans with at least one outstanding student loan. In 2008, there were only 29 million people with at least one outstanding student loan.

As ATTN: writer Dante Atkins noted earlier this year, student loan debt hurts everyone, even those who don't have it.

"The epidemic of student loan debt is restricting the public service sector to those who either don’t have to worry about money or to those who are so eager to do the work that they’re willing to suffer financially for it," Atkins wrote. "The crushing epidemic of student loan debt, then, results in far fewer young Americans striving to serve the public and make the world a better place, rather than serve the highest bidder simply to get out of debt."

Pledge to vote in the upcoming election to ensure that politicians prioritize education funding.

Share your opinion

Is student loan debt a concern?

No 3%Yes 97%