Struggling With College Tuition?
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Struggling With College Tuition?

Are you struggling with paying for college?

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Struggling With College Tuition?
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/

This topic is something that I know many aspiring college and current college students struggle with. My question is “Why is college tuition so high?” This is what I do know. Unless you are a star athlete and have a 4.0 GPA and you are considering going to college, you will most likely graduate with an absurd amount of debt. College students think they are getting a discount if they are in-state students, got “some” financial aid, and or got a scholarship. That is what Universities do! They are simply making students believe they are getting a discount for college but in reality they aren’t.

Personally I am suffering with the whole money issue for college. I wasn’t fortunate enough to have rich parents that would take care of my college tuition. Just like many students in the same position as I am, are totally freaking out about how much debt we will all be in after college. Thoughts run through our minds “is it even worth it?” I strongly believe that this is a huge problem. We are just young adults trying to get a degree from a good University. If it is going to cost me $50,000 a year, then I might as well just spend my time trying to find a good job that I wont need a bachelor’s degree for. Another option is community college, which right now is looking like the best option. Community College is cheap and you still get the same degree. So, why do college students decide to go to a well known University over Community College? Well because students are convinced that going to a University will guarantee them a “good” job when they graduate. This, is in fact not true, and is the reason why students will be drowning in student loan debt, and is expected to be paid once that diploma hits their hands. If a college degree is the passage to middle-class, someone should seriously consider lowering college tuition, because some of us aren’t fortunate enough to be “rolling in cash”.

You would think that I am getting most of my information from internet sources, but my information is coming from the issues that I, as a college student at the University of New Hampshire, and the child of two “not very wealthy” parents are facing. So, here’s another issue that I would like to talk about. Unfortunately, most of us students cannot pay off all four years of our college tuition. That means we have to take out loans. Which also means we need someone to co-sign our loans because most likely an 18-year-old can’t co-sign their own loan (which leads to another point).

Being a co-signer is a huge responsibility, and also a huge risk. Which is often why it's hard to find a co-signer. Most of the time it is a parent or guardian, but if they don’t have great credit or a decent household income, then you better give your parents a reason to trust you because if you miss one payment when you graduate, they are screwed. Back to the point about being your own co-signer, to co-sign for yourself you have to make nearly $13,000 a year as said by my father’s financial accountant. My question is, how on earth can a student, make that amount of money a year, and do school at the same time without having a serious mental breakdown.

I’m almost positive that I didn’t even make $1,000 last year and I worked a decent amount. With, that said, co-signing for yourself is most likely out of the question unless your name is “superman”. But, that’s not it, first you have to find a loan with a decent interest rate. Finding a decent interest rate is almost impossible to do. Having a high interest rate could potentially make your tuition double if you don’t start paying your loan off immediately. Financial aid is where most grants are made. But, you are probably not going to get much money unless you are living with a single parent and they are on the verge of losing your house. It doesn’t seem fair to me at all that we are all going to be suffering with college debt.

Another point I want to address is the fact that a job is not 100 percent guaranteed when you graduate. Sure, most students end up with a great job, but there is still a chance that they wont, and it seems a bit ridiculous to me that we are paying such high amounts of money without a 100 percent chance of getting a great job. How else will we pay off our student loans if we don’t have a job when we graduate? Now what I do want to know is the reason for the high college tuition, and why the higher powers thing that it is OK. Now is where I start my journey to finding the answers to all of my questions and potentially finding the opposing viewpoint to my examination on college tuition.

As I began my research I came across an E-Book that really stood out to me. The title read “The Challenge of College Affordability”. At first, I became skeptical because I noticed that it was a hearing among the United States Senate, examining college affordability. I began to read and what I found was quite interesting but also very off-putting. Many senators proceeded with their statements as well as students’ point of views. What I noticed first about the hearing was that the people participating were also against the sharp incline of college tuition. The opening statement made by Senator Harkin discussed the difficulties of low-income families and their affordability of college.

New data has shown that two-thirds of students that graduated in 2011 had an average student loan debt of $26,600, a 5 percent increase from the previous graduating class (Harkin [1] 1). This is a huge increase, and this is only in the matter of a year. With the upward trend in tuition, the percentage can only get higher if nothing is done to fix the problem. A report made by the State Higher Education Office warned that the public higher education will cross a historic threshold.

For the first time, students will be contributing more money to operating costs of public universities than the state government does (1). If you look back to 2001 tuition was 29 percent of the costs compared to 2012’s net tuition revenue of 47 percent for educational costs (1). Senator Harkin states the already known fact that students, of course, will turn to loans and Pell grants. This is easy money. Unfortunately, as a student, I did the same thing. I had no money at all, coming from a low-income family. It was easy for me at the time to just get a loan. The hardest part about loans, is that they will have to be paid back. Not only are they expensive, but they also have the interest rate that will accumulate over time.

Senator Harkin states that “Students from wealthy families are seven times as likely to have earned a bachelor’s degree by the age of 24 than those of poor families (Harkin 2).” This is an unbelievable statistic and it truly isn’t right. An intelligent student that comes from a poorer family has the same chance of an unintelligent student coming from a wealthier family of getting into college (2). Harkin continues with more statistics on the low-income and high-income families. He states toward the ending of the statement that “If we want America’s higher education system to be an engine of equal opportunity and not a system that perpetuates and actually broadens inequality, then something should be changed (2).” I too, agree with his statement.

There are plenty of ways that the federal government could reduce college tuition. So why wouldn’t they just do it? Senator Alexander steps up to the chair with his opening statement. In Senator Alexander’s statement he discusses the four main reasons for such high tuition and costs of college. The first reason for high tuition is Federal Medicaid mandates (Alexander [2] 3). When Alexander was governor of Tennessee in the 1980’s, Medicaid was a low 8 percent of the State budget, now in Tennessee Medicaid takes up a whole 26 percent of the budget that could have been used to reduce tuition at public universities (3).

The second reason is because of inefficient use of public facilities; these savings could have reduced the cost of attending the college (3). I find this point fascinating. I’ve noticed a lot of renovations going around my campus at the University of New Hampshire. It makes me wonder if these were real necessities for the college campus and how much money could have been saved and put towards a student's cost of attendance. The third reason is because of the well-intentioned Federal Regulations (3). The fourth reason for the absurd cost of tuition is the large amount of Federal money that follows students to the college of their choice (3). Loans have become one of the biggest problems since they are so easy to get (3). The total of Federal Student loans is approaching $1 trillion (3).

Where the rest of the hearing leads to is statements made by real college graduates. I believe that bringing in students that are experiencing these issues was probably one of the best decisions they could have made. A fellow graduate, Ethan Senack, from the University of Connecticut, stepped up to the chair to speak for what he believed in. He provided his own point of view to the senate and proposed a well credited amount of statistics to the court. Senack provided recommendations on how to reduce college tuition as well as maintaining the aspired fixed issue. Many other students presented their statements to the court in hope of figuring out a way to fix the ongoing problem.

Searching through the opposing viewpoints database I found an article on student loans. Just like other articles on student loans, they talk about how most students can’t afford to pay upfront for higher education, so in result students will rely on government and private student loans (Gale 1). College tuition and fees rose 439 percent between 1982 and 2007 (1). This ultimately affected students with the enormous debt that they find themselves having to pay on top of interest (1). Unemployment among adults in their early twenties was at a record 18.5 percent, causing the recent college graduates to default on their debts. (1)

The article describes the different types of loans offered to students. Students are not required to start making payments on loan until after graduation, however if payments aren’t made interest will accumulate causing the loan to be even higher (2). Circumstances are different with direct federal loans to students, they aren’t required to pay back the loan nor will interest accumulate, but the loan amount will not be as much as if a parent took out the loan, which would require payments immediately (2). This is general information that every college students of adult should, and I hope would be aware of.

Despite the number of loan options, I find it absurd because no matter what loan you obtain, you are ultimately not “winning”. In 2009-10, more than $154 billion in financial aid was awarded to undergraduate students resulting in an average of $11,500 in aid per student, and $6,000 in grants that don’t have to be repaid (3). In my opinion, this doesn’t seem very accurate. I also think that they failed to mention that most students either have to be a superstar in athletics, a genius, or in a serious rut of income instability to receive a high amount of financial aid or grants.

Students, however, do have options in managing their student loan debt (Gale 5). Although the options may helpful to borrowers, there is no way to wipe out the mandatory payment (5). There is a way to postpone loans for a many as three years if students are attending graduate school or are unemployed (5). Interest will, of course, accumulate due to the deferment period (5). There is also something called consolidation, which combines all of the loans into one large loan (5). But yet again interest rate will still accumulate (5). I think that interest rates are a huge factor in student loan debt. If you are stuck with a high interest rate, there is a possibility that you could be paying double of the original loan taken out due to accumulation.

A multi-billion-dollar economic rescue package called the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, was introduced and passed during the worldwide economic crisis in 2008 (Gale 6). This act could have huge consequences for the US economy, but solutions such as the online initiative launched by Robert Applebaum, Forgive Student Loan debt to Stimulate the Economy, were introduced (6). Similar to what Robert Applebaum has said on his site, I believe that something should be done to help people who were only trying to pursue a higher education so that they could succeed in their future. People who are going to school are doing nothing but being responsible adults, trying to find their path in life. With all of the debt that people are running into it seems that there is a strong possibility that people may stop going to school. Maybe the equivalent to making less, but having no debt is making much more but having much more debt.

An article Tackling Tuition, by Roger Fillion, stood out to me. The title is basically what everything that I am researching. The main idea of Fillion’s article is how lawmakers are trying to find ways to help students and families with the soaring cost of college tuition. Fillion introduces Wright-Pettibone, a student that is struggling with the cost of his tuition and fees. Wright-Pettibone received a tuition rollback cutting of a whole 5 percent of his tuition for the year, making it easier for him to spend more time studying, and not having to worry about another student loan that he would have had to take out.

Fillion explains that most students are also in the same boat trying to deal with the escalating college costs. Legislators are too, trying to handle the situation. Legislators have three policy levers at their disposal: tuition, general appropriations and financial aid (Fillion 14). Messing with one of the levers will affect the other two, thus considering how changes affect all three simultaneously would be a good decision (14). So far, no states have figured out a solid solution on how to make it possible for a student with a lower level background to go to college without the worry of tuition costs being under control (14). Tuition has risen faster than inflation every year since 1980 (Fillion 15). Fillion addresses what is fueling the increase in tuition. He states that most people blame cuts in state funding. Although state and local funding for public higher education has increased the last few years, tuition costs vary among states and institutions (Fillion 25).

Another point Fillion addressed was that due to competition for national rankings, schools upgrade their facilities and technology to attract highly intelligent students, causing tuition to spike up (Fillion 15). Fillion starts to talk about the efforts to make college affordable for low- and middle-level income students being made by state legislators and their innovation programs. Lawmakers in Maryland challenged out-of-control tuition in 2007 and developed a Higher Education Investment fund relying on corporate income and tax revenues (Fillion 15,16). In 2010, lawmakers created Tuition Stabilization Fund, also relying on corporate tax revenue (Fillion 16). Maryland’s average state tuition increased 9 percent compared to the 26 percent nationally due to the efforts made by state legislators (16). In the rest of the article, Fillion explains how different states are taking action to give a lower/middle class student a higher education.

The last point I want to address in my research paper comes from a website on college education. My question and the title of this article is, “Is a College Education Worth It?” The website sets up a chart of pros and cons of getting a college degree.

College graduates with a bachelor’s degree earned $30,000 more per year than a high school graduate, and about $500,000 more in a life time as of April 2013 (“Is a College Education Worth It?” 1). On the other hand, student debt is crippling for college graduates, the number of 25-year-olds with student debt increased from 25 percent to 43 percent (“Is a College Tuition Worth It?” 1.2). If loans are not repaid on time a result would be a lower credit score and more fees, escalating the student’s debt and jeopardizing future purchases and employment (1.2). Many jobs these days require a higher education, approximately 63 percent of jobs will require some college education making higher education a pro (“Is a College Education Worth It?” 2). Vice versa, some college graduates end up employed by a well paying companying that didn’t require a college education (“Is a College Education Worth It?” 3.2). Talk about a waste of money? The list goes on with the good and the bad of whether or not it is worth it to pursue higher education. Unfortunately, there is no way to really know if it is truly better to attend college. Personally, from what I have read, I do believe that heading down the path of secondary education is most likely the better choice.

After wrapping up my research, and learning about the causes of the spike of such high tuition, I am wondering if this problem will ever truly be addressed and then situated. I strongly believe from my research that there is definitely a way to fix this ongoing problem, but there are too many consequences that come along with it. It’s very upsetting to see college student’s like myself, have to graduate with an enormous amount of debt. I hope to see tuition costs go down in the future.


Works Cited

FILLION, ROGER. "Tackling Tuition." State legislatures 42.3 (2016): 14-9. Web.

"Is a College Education Worth It?" 1/13/2015 2015. Web. <http://college-education.procon.org/>.

"Student Loans." Opposing Viewpoints Online Collection. Detroit: Gale, 2015. Opposing Viewpoints in Context; Gale. Web.

United States. Congress. Senate. Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions, author. The Challenge of College Affordability: The Student Lens. iii Vol. , 2015. Print.



[1] Senator Harkin involved in the Challenge of College Affordability: The Student Lens hearing.

[2] Senator Alexander involved in the Challenge of College Affordability: The Student Lens hearing.

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