The Painful Truth about College Tuition

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The Painful Truth about College Tuition

Lukas Mosora, Assistant Editor

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It is very true that seniors and juniors in high school spend much of their time contemplating their futures. There are so many different paths to take to further one’s knowledge and experience, and one of the most popular life choices for many graduating seniors is college. Though many upperclassmen choose this path, making that decision is not as simple as some may think.

One of the biggest factors in choosing a school is tuition. How much money is it going to cost  to attend school? Well, college is not cheap, and that is something everyone is well aware of. Take an Ivy League school like Harvard as an example. It is without a doubt one of the most (if not the most) prestigious four-year universities, and getting accepted is difficult enough on its own. According to online sources, the cost of attending Harvard (not including room and board) this fall was a whopping $45,278. “I’ve always aspired to attend an Ivy League school such as Harvard, but the cost of attendance is pretty outrageous for most,” says senior Mikey VanSuch.

Smaller private colleges and public universities show rising tuitions as well.  The average cost of tuition and fees at a private, non-profit, four-year university last year was $31,231, compared to $1,832 in 1971-1972, sources state.  At public, four-year schools, last year’s average was $9,139 compared to less than $500 in 1971-1972. “I couldn’t even imagine the cost of attendance being under $500. That’s just unheard of!” Exclams Anthony Corrin, a senior here at HHS.

So what has caused college tuition to sky rocket? Well, according to sources, college tuition has been increasing at a higher rate than inflation over the last 30 years, leaving students with a tremendous amount of debt when they graduate. In the period from 2000, to 2010, funding per student at state universities fell by 21%, from $8,257 to $6,532 in inflation adjusted dollars. Since the recession, funding for higher education declined by 14.6% (though, this may vary from state to state). In every year from 2001 to 2011, a third of all states experienced funding cuts, and in half of those years, two-thirds of states did.

So, it is not just a single factor that has contributed to the rise in tuition. Natural economic processes such as inflation affect all areas of life, including education. Unfortunately, this rising cost may turn some potential students away from college, leaving others to pick up the slack, which causes a problem for most students, but there are still plenty of students who can afford to pay the full fare. Another factor, demand, allows colleges to have the ability to name their price. Demand drives prices up, and educational institutions are not against this. It allows them to increase the quality of aspects such as a beautiful campus and staff salaries, at the expense of an increasing cost of attendance for incoming students. Finally, the distribution of scholarships is not exactly uniform, as most applicants know, and those who do not receive them, end up funding the grants for students that do via those higher tuitions.

These are just a few of the leading factors that have led to a rapid increase in college tuition. Other factors such as availability of classes and popularity of majors has also contributed to inflating the cost of attendance. “ That’s brought immense pressure from the media and general public, asking whether college is still worth it,” states Sais Ray Franke, a professor of education at the University of Massachusetts, Boston. Unfortunately, college tuition is going to continue to rise, leaving students to ask themselves, “Is college really worth potentially drowning in student debt for the first half of my adult life?”




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