By Alina Huynh
What exactly is the middle class? For almost 50 years, a middle class standard of living in the United States meant having a secure job, a safe and stable home, access to health care, retirement security, time off for vacation, opportunities to save for the future, and the ability to provide a good education, including a college education, for one’s children. In the past, these middle class fundamentals were within reach for most Americans.
Most Americans would identify themselves as middle class.
However, in more recent times, thousands of middle class families are experiencing the squeeze. Despite the fact that their annual income are far above the U.S. median household income, many families feel as through they’re barely scraping by.
I have noticed how the government often forgets about this lower middle class. This is also where my family falls in. My parents’ combined household income places us just above the low-income status they would need to qualify for most government assistance programs, making it hard for my parents to pay for our tuition.
My brother is going off to college next year, while I’m going to attend college in two years. My parents aren’t rich — after helping pay for my brother’s tuition, it will be difficult for them to pay for mine as well. They’re scared of falling into a hole of debt in the future.
The problem is that we don’t qualify for government financial aid, which is very disappointing. The lack of financial assistance for lower middle class families is very disappointing. I want to tell the government, ‘Please don’t forget the middle class!’ There are people who are hardworking, who pay their taxes, and who are U.S. citizens that need help. Even though many are not completely in poverty, it would still be beneficial if they had the money to feel more secure about their future.
While there are good assistance programs, many citizens do not qualify because they are just above the poverty line. I know there are thousands of families out there whose circumstances have drastically changed in recent years and can no longer afford health care or child care. The rich don’t have to worry about making ends meet, while those with lower income have access to government assistance programs to help them out. This leaves the middle class fending for themselves.
The poor economy is threatening many families’ sense of security. Many Asian American families have come to America to provide better opportunities for their sons and daughters, but a shrinking economy makes it hard for these families to fulfill their dreams. The government needs to find a solution for this problem, and a better way to provide for all. (end)
Editor’s note: This story was written by a Summer Youth Leadership Program student, not a Northwest Asian Weekly staff member.