Cost of Tuition and Then Some
College students in debt due to high tuition
Published: Monday, December 9, 2013
Updated: Monday, December 9, 2013 14:12
It is the elephant in the room regarding college education—student debt.
According to a study on varsitytutor.com, 66 percent, or every 2 in 3 college students, will leave school with some form of debt.
Among them, approximately 60 percent will have outstanding loans equivalent to their annual income. USA Today says that college graduates are on average holding $26,500 in student loan debt.
A recent press release by Consumer Reports stated the accumulated amount of student debt has reached a total of over 1 trillion dollars.
Such high costs now bring up the question: Is a college education worth the investment?
Jim Gale, a professor of Agribusiness and Applied Economics at NDSU, said he believes in the importance and benefits of receiving a college degree.
“The extra earning power will more than cover the debt a person has,” Gale said. “On the other hand, the immediate effect is that you have much less discretionary income because you have to service that loan…but lifetime earnings are going to cover that.”
For some, it may take longer to pay off loans than others. Rebecca Opp, a sophomore majoring in English education, said she understands that.
“I’m aware that loans are going to affect financial standing,” Opp said. “There are some things I will have to wait for after college. I may not be able to own my own house as soon as I would like.”
Students looking into furthering their education at college have different options. There are private colleges that tend to be more expensive in contrast with less expensive state and public schools. Taking costs into account as a student is a very important step when considering future loan payments.
“Students make choices,” Gale said. “You can go to a private school and really rack up a lot of debt. Or you can go to schools that are not so costly and keep that debt down. There are options that people have and ways to prevent being so deep in loans.”
Other options some students seek can be attending a two-year community college to help save money. Some take a year off to save and think about what they want to pursue as a career. Despite methods to cut costs, the price of post-secondary education continues to rise.
“(The) rate of increase in tuition price is faster than the rate of inflation, so the real cost is indeed going up,” Gale said.
To help remedy this problem the Department of Education has been looking for solutions that can counteract the high costs students face.
“By equipping counselors and mentors with financial aid information, we can help to ensure current and potential students are getting the assistance they need to successfully navigate the process of planning and paying for a postsecondary education,” U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said in a press release. “This toolkit builds on the administration’s ongoing efforts to improve college access and affordability.”
The Department of Education continues to work on making student financial aid accessible in order to help make college affordable.
For many, college is a time of sacrifice. Some students work part-time jobs to try and pay for living expenses and chip away at their student loans knowing that, in the long run, the payoff will be greater than the short-term cost.
“I am working about 30 hours a week while also maintaining a full class schedule,” Opp said. “It is stressful, but I have a plan in place, and I am hopeful for the future.”