College Tuition Crisis

college tuition

By Maddi Fink

With application deadlines approaching rapidly, many high school students are beginning to worry about college. How does such a young person pay such a high tuition price? Getting a job that pays minimum wage definitely will not cover the thousands of dollars needed every year for higher education. One needs a higher paying job in order to pay for education, but for a higher paying job one would need the education. To get the education, one needs the money. It is an endless and stressful, cycle of finance and time management.

According to the Consumer News and Business Channel, the cost of tuition for a public four-year college has risen 110 percent in the last 20 years. The tuition for a private four-year college has risen 66 percent. Of course, this price is only tuition and does not include the extra fees for books, housing and living expenses, supplies, food, or transportation. With all of the separate costs within the system, it can be difficult to predict how much it will cost for four years of education. Of course, prices may not look all that bad on the websites and brochures, but what you really need to be paying attention to is the net price, not the sticker price. But keep in mind, prices will range depending on household income, scholarships, and financial aid.

Private universities are completely funded by student tuition, endowment, and donations. This makes their tuition prices noticeably greater than that of a public university. Although tuition is higher, private colleges and universities offer the best financial aid and scholarship options, according to scholarships.com.

Public universities are partially funded by state governments, therefore as scholarship funds and loans increase, so does tuition within public universities. According to the American Council of Education, Virginia reduced its higher education funding by 53.6 percent from $10.47 billion to $4.86 billion between 1980 and 2011. At this rate, Virginia funding would reach zero in the year 2032. This would increase tuition prices drastically, leading to both a decrease in college graduates and an increase in annual student loans.

Martin Campbell is a guidance counselor at Bishop Sullivan as well as a father of two college students. Regarding student loans he said, “once you start adding all those student loans together, you could be $15,000 or $20,000 in debt by the time you graduate, which means you have to get a job or you won’t be able to pay back your loans. If you don’t pay back your loans, you will default on them which ruins your credit, but the government — which means the taxpayers — end up paying all that money.”

The average student debt in 2014 was nearly $30,000 after graduation with an average of 13.7 percent of those students defaulting on about $14,000 of their federal loan according to Atlas New America.

Of course, certain majors will sign college students before graduation depending on the student’s major. These jobs normally pay fairly well and help pay off student loans. Jobs currently in demand include medical fields, engineering fields, and certain business fields. But those with a less marketable major may have a harder time after graduation. Are the burdens of student loans worth the struggles after college?

This political season there has been discussion about offering free education and ways to achieve it. This has the possibility of decreasing our higher education’s quality, but also increase the number of students within the education system. The ability to go to college after high school and not worry about money may help American society develop into a more intellectual culture. Paying high tuition can increase stress and tension and reduce creativity within a student and his or her path through education. Free education gives many more opportunities to those who cannot afford a higher education, even with financial aid.

With the workforce becoming more and more competitive, debt should not be a concern for those just entering it. Graduating with $10,000 or $20,000 in debt limits a young man or woman from renting an apartment, buying a car, or financially succeeding after college. Education should not be limited to those who can afford it, but to those who strive for excellence and learning, without the burden of debt.

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