Opinion: Tuition Troubles


Albert Fisler is a columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected].

Albert Fisler

As college students, we know very well the staggering cost of tuition as well as the hole it leaves in our wallets or the debt left to pay in the future. However, we’ve all seen the benefit of a college degree, which is more than likely why we put up with the high price of learning.

According to National Public Radio, or NPR, college graduates earned $17,500 more than high school graduates in 2012. NPR also reported that the average tuition and fees at public four-year colleges and universities increased by 27 percent beyond the rate of inflation over the five years from the 2008-09 academic year to 2013-14, but after adjusting for inflation, the cost of tuition more than tripled between 1973 and 2013, and in some places such as Arizona or Georgia, tuition costs have risen more than 70 percent.  

When the GI Bill was introduced after World War II, it gave veterans access to higher learning, and the turnout was great.  College admissions snowballed from there, as more citizens sought to earn their college degrees as well.  

However, according to NPR, in the 1970s when inflation reached double digits, college tuition rose more than the inflation rate and private loans, heavily subsidized by the federal government, gradually replaced federal grants as the main source of money for both poor and middle-class college students.

This creates chaos for any family unfamiliar with the college loan process, especially if they have sub-par credit. My sister and I were unable to attend Kent State last year because our parents could not co-sign our loans because of their credit.  My friend and roommate had to leave this semester after unsuccessfully going through seven different co-signers for his loans.  

NPR states that colleges love to point out that there’s the “sticker price” and there’s the real price, which is great for the few who can navigate the labyrinth of financial aid sources and discounts that institutions say they offer. Although the path of financial aid does seem like a labyrinth at times, I can’t say how many times I’ve filled out scholarships only to be denied, and whenever I ask for help at the financial aid office, I’m only directed to go back to the website, with little information, only to do what I had already done before.  

Nevertheless, even if these loans are approved, it still means paying thousands of dollars back in debt after one graduates. According to the Institute for College Access and Success, students will pay back an average of nearly $30,000 each. This is quite an intimidating amount for anyone considering paying for college strictly in loans.  

However, there are states currently looking into making community college free to the public. ABC News reports that in Tennessee, Republican Gov. Bill Haslam wants to use lottery money to create a free community college program for high school graduates. If approved by the legislature, the “Tennessee Promise” would provide a full ride for any high school graduate, at a cost of $34 million per year.

In the end, colleges hold all of our fates in their hands, both educationally and financially, which is a scary thought to say the least.