The Truth About College Tuition



Chart of college tuition and fees. Tribune News Service 2015

Angel Zheng

In 2013, The Institute for College And Success (TICAS) calculated that around 70 percent of graduating seniors are in debt. Over the past three decades, college tuition in the United States has increased by more than tenfold. State High students are affected by this issue as well.

“It’s terrifying,” said Aileen McKinstry, senior, “especially with the widespread knowledge of the crippling effects of student debt.”  

The United States is faced with the problem of high college fees, leading many students to not apply to certain colleges or drop out in fear of falling into debt. The rising college tuition poses many problems towards high school students who aim to go to college.

“While college education is being increasingly seen as necessary, the rising costs of education put too many students at a disadvantage later into life,” said senior Gopal Jayakar. He believes that college loans are the most oppressive type of debt because it will follow the person through bankruptcy. “In my mind, merit should be the only tool used to determine whether or not a student can go to college,” said Jayakar, “and some big universities do a fantastic job of offering need based aid, but these practices should be more widespread.”

Financial aid plays an important role in many students’ college choices. By stacking up their scholarships, students can make a difference in the amount of debt they need to pay later. McKinstry said, “The more money a college offers me (in scholarships, etc.), I am more inclined to attend the college.” Although scholarships help alleviate some of the seniors’ stress, tuition remains a prominent issue for many. For most students, scholarships do not cover the full cost.

In fact, many high school students fear the amount of money they must pay for higher education if they do not receive scholarships. “College tuition is stressing me out because so many colleges that have amazing programs… have ridiculously expensive tuition,” remarked Lylian Wang, a junior. “And then when I don’t get the scholarship, I then become upset, which only adds more stress.”

Not only is college tuition a concern for the students, but counselors are also troubled by this issue. Kerry O’Melia, LE staff member, said, “In today’s world the rising cost of college tuition is outpacing the rate of inflation… When students have to assume this debt it can affect the time it takes them to get a degree, based on the cost per credit.” She added that  some students may have to work while attending college and this can affect their academic performance.  According to O’Melia, there are a few factors to consider.  She also stated that if a student has to assume their total financial debt, their decision could be partly influenced on the tuition of the university, and assuming the burden of large student loans can change how students view the college application process.  If a student is receiving financial aid, for example grant money and/or scholarships, their decisions may change. The rising cost of college tuition does, therefore, affect students and the college application process.

Ignatius Liu, senior, expressed his doubts on the value of the tuition he would need to pay for college. “As a student that is going to college next year, I certainly feel like the rise of college tuition is rather ridiculous, and sometimes I wonder if it is worth it,” he said. “But like others, I think it’s more of an investment, and I guess we’ll see what the return value of college is in the future.”

Ideally, the price of college should not be the only factor toward students’ decisions about college, and it certainly should not discourage any students to not apply for higher education. However, as the facts still stand, high school students can only expect things to remain the same in the near future.