7 College Affordability

Abby Corbin, Zach Newquist, and Jared Rutledge

When Gavin Flood started looking at colleges, he wasn’t thinking much about how finances come into play. He was still figuring out his own wants and needs in a college. Did he want to attend a big college or a small one? Study medicine or political science? Gavin’s mother says that, “College is just a big financial step for us” (Ano). Both he and his sister attended a private school, and that has cut into the family’s college savings. Both his parents work for a local government in his hometown and paying $60,000 a year for college was out of the question for Gavin. Him putting it into perspective was hard. He couldn’t see why he couldn’t go to his dream school. “College affordability has become a nearly universal concern among American families — even those, like Gavin’s, with two parents working in good jobs” (Ano). As college affordability is now starting to hit home, it’s hard for colleges to make a university’s message relevant. Encouraging middle and upper income families to save for college early, but university’s become nervous it might discourage low income families that college is possible for them. But kids dream big. Always wanting the best. To go to the biggest school, or the smallest school with the best program for their major. But little do kids end up realizing how much college is. How the struggle for some families to send their kids to college is.

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It’s not in your imagination, or in your dream last night. College prices are increasing more and more each year. In the lowest-class, earning 25% of all American families with kids, pay an average of $12,300 to send them to public college, after grants and scholarships are subtracted. This was equivalent to 40% of the group’s top annual income. For families in the lower-middle class, they average $69,000 for kids going to college. Which the net public group ate up 23% of the group’s top income. The upper middle class, making $111,000 on average, were earning more than 75% of all families who send their kids to college. These two classes, paid around $20,400 to send their children to state-public-college. Cahalan says, “the numbers show that financial aid has lagged so far behind rising living and tuition costs that many low-income students are being priced out of college.” It is clear that “low-income students have to work too many hours to survive, and that is depressing their ability to compete and be successful”(Clark). Just because some families are not fortunate enough to have the amount of money some families have, should not be restricting them from going to college. If college was affordable to everyone, more children could have confidence and become more successful in the future. Allowing more workers and children wanting to become the best they can be.

“Scholarships for students are offered by colleges, the government, some private organizations and individuals and charities”(The Bene). You are permitted to apply not just for one scholarship, but for multiple at a time, in hope of getting at least one. By applying for more than one, increases your chances of getting one, or getting all of them. Scholarships give students the opportunity to study in college at a reasonable or lowered price. Some scholarships even allow and give the change for students to go for absolutely free. “Unlike student loans, the scholarships for students do not have to be repaid”(The Bene). They are given in generosity to help students succeed and a prize for their outstanding work and over achievement in some cases. Financial problems can be a stress for parents, but also can be a stress for students. It can cause them to lose focus and be unable to concentrate on classes. Scholarships are given to anyone, not just a specific class. Students who roll in money receive scholarships and students who come from a lower class can receive them. There are a variety of different students coming from different home styles that are allowed scholarships. Scholarships give students hope and more confidence in themselves. When being rewarded with scholarships, families have a little less pressure removed from their shoulders. This support is a big change for some families and can be very beneficial. No matter what type of family you are coming from, you are always accessed and allowed to receive a scholarship. What is special about these is that they do not favor a type of class. They look to see how much effort and extra work students put in and who earnestly deserve some type of reward for their hard work.

On average, college costs anywhere from twenty to fifty thousand dollars for American families. However, with loans and financial aid, the amount is substantially lower. During the 2014-2015 school year, “about two-thirds of full-time students paid for college with the help of financial aid in the form of grants and scholarships” (The College Board). Financial aid is implemented to cover the cost of books and supplies, room and board, tuition and fees, and transportation; for many students and their families, this is a necessity.

In order to qualify for financial aid, you must meet the specific requirements for eligibility, these include, “Expected Family Contribution, your year in school, your enrollment status, and the cost of attendance at the school you will be attending” (Federal Student Aid). However, not all students are eligible, which results in many students pay close to, or even the entire full amount for schools. This creates the modern day problem of, “[t]oo poor for college, too rich for financial aid” (Farrington), with the FAFSA (calculates Expected Family Contribution) not considering families other expenses, such as, saving for retirement and saving for other child’s college funds.

Also, without financial aid, debt has a detrimental affect on students life after college. It also affects schools retention rates, with students not being able to afford the cost of their most favorable college choice. Although, this is a considerable issue for many of those in the middle class, financial aid provides an essential assistance for students and their families.

When you apply for financial aid, schools may offer you loans as part of their financial aid plan. A loan is money that you borrow and pay back with interest. Student loans can be from private resources such as a bank, or from the federal government. “Loans made by the federal government, called federal student loans, usually offer borrowers lower interest rates and have more flexible repayment options than loans from banks or other private sources” (Federal Student Aid). Therefore, a lot of students lean towards federal student loans rather than from private resources.

Unlike financial aid, loans require to be repaid with interest. According to Student Loan Hero, “Americans owe nearly $1.3 trillion in student loan debt, spread out among about 44 million borrowers.” There are a lot of aspects to understand before taking out a loan. These include knowing the definitions of: interest rate, subsidized, need-based, and defer. Interest rate is one of the most significant to understand, because it is the cost of borrowing money, and the higher your interest rate, the more money you’ll owe over time.

The best kind of loans to take out are the need-based. This is due to the fact that the government supports your education by subsidizing it, which means the government will pay interest fees while you are still in college. These loans also have very low interest rates, and allow you to defer repaying money until you have a job, and are out of college. Therefore if you qualify for this loan, you are recommended to choose it first.

Community Colleges are a great option when considering higher education. It is a great way to save money. “No matter which college you attend or your intended major, the first two years will be mainly comprised of the same set of classes” (Enariz). Being said when picking classes in community college you should make sure your credits will transfer to wherever you want to spend your last two years. Or if you intend on finishing your major in community college there are no worries. The worries when picking colleges are the cost. “Most private universities cost around $36,000 per year. That’s $144,000 for four years of attendance! Public state universities are far cheaper, costing $9,000 per year on average. However, after four years, this price is still $36,000” (Enariz). Even for most families state universities are too expensive. The cost is a lot of money for families. Especially when considering more than one kid. “the average annual cost at a two-year college is $2,963, according to CollegeBoard. Assuming you complete 60 units, or two years, of required classes at a community college, you will save $12,000 to $66,000 compared to the same education at a state or private school” (Enariz). On top of all these savings many that go to community college still live at home, meaning they save even more money. Saving money to families is vital these days. When considering colleges most families see “a reputation of being less academically serious than traditional four-year universities. But a lot has changed in the world of community college. Most importantly, academic standards have risen, as have the qualifications of the teachers (Community College). Community College has given many families a better ability to send their children to college.

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“The price students pay includes tuition, fees, books, room, and board. Room is eliminated for those living at home, saving about $5,000 to $6,000 per year, and some fees may not apply to students who don’t set foot on campus. Still, the main outlay remains—tuition. It’s the elephant in the room that, over 30 years, has grown by 400 percent (twice the inflation of health care), and at name-brand private colleges today it tips the scale at $40,000 to $45,000” (Casement 15). With online learning these prices can be considerably lower. Online courses have already been available, and “in 2011, 87 percent of institutions offered at least some courses online and 32 percent of college students took at least one online course” (Casement 15). Many online courses cost the same amount of money as normal classes, but in time this price should drop a considerable amount. Also if you can do all of your classes online you can save plenty of money. As of now saving’s are being made. In every college that offers online courses the university either makes nor loses any money, or they save money. Now it is time for those savings to be passed on. A great new program has recently been established. It is called Massive Open On-

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line Courses (MOOCs), they are “Sponsored by prestigious universities, they are capable of enrollments running to tens and even hundreds of thousands each, and students from anywhere can take them free of charge. Harvard (MA), Stanford (CA), Princeton (NJ) Universities, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), the University of Virginia, and many more schools provide instruction via talented professors lecturing to the masses, with students conversing in chat rooms. Progress is monitored by quizzes scored electronically, along with online final exams… colleges, are beginning to accept MOOCs for transfer credit, looking to keep up with the times and searching for a financial gain. As they become credit-bearing, MOOCs hold the promise of saving students considerable amounts of money. Taken for credit, MOOCs aren’t free, but the charge for them is still much less than for on-campus courses.” (Casement 17). Online learning is still new but with time it will be a lot more prevalent. The opportunities that are arising can completely change the pricing for college. MOOCs have changed online learning, and even higher education for some. Making college more affordable for everyone.

In today’s society college is a necessity. If you want a stable income, college is the best way to get there. Almost any high paying job is going to require a college education. Even then you can still fail to get a job due to others with more education. In order to get ahead the more schooling you’ll need. That’s the problem, people can’t just come up with the money for a college education. The good thing is that there are alternative methods to reduce the price. Even though the price of college is off the charts, more and more methods to afford college are arising. Whether you want to be in a big school, small school, or even online school there are methods to achieve it.

Works Cited

Ano, Beckie Supi. “College Affordability: a Slippery Concept.” Chronicle of Higher Education 04 Sept. 2015: A28+. Academic Search Premier. Web. 18 Nov. 2016.

Bridgestock, Laura. “How Much Does It Cost to Study in the US?” Top Universities. QS

Quacquarelli Symonds Limited, 2016. Web. 21 Nov. 2016.

Casement, William. “Will Online Learning Lower the Price of College?” Journal of College Admission (2013): 15-18. Web. 18 Nov. 2016.      <http://web.a.ebscohost.com.libproxy.plymouth.edu/ehost/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?sid=7116a038-cfa9-  41b5-be33-95ba2f67fd1d%40sessionmgr4007&vid=1&hid=4002>.

“Community Colleges vs. Universities.” Community Colleges vs. Universities. EducationCorner, n.d. Web.21 Nov. 2016.

Eneriz, Ashley. “Benefits of Attending Community College for Two Years to Save Money.” Money Crashers. SparkCharge Media, n.d. Web. 21 Nov. 2016.

Farrington, Robert. “Too Poor For College, Too Rich For Financial Aid.” Forbes. Forbes

Media, 17 June 2014. Web. 21 Nov. 2016.

Kim Clark. “Yes, College Costs Are Eating Up More of Your Income.” Time. Time, n.d. Web. 18 Nov. 2016.

“Loans.” Federal Student Aid. FOIA, 2015. Web. 21 Nov. 2016.

“Pay for College – Financial Aid: FAQs.” Pay for College – Financial Aid: FAQs. The College Board, 2016. Web. 21 Nov. 2016.

“Paying for College – What Is Financial Aid?” Paying for College – What Is Financial Aid? University of Hawai’i Community Colleges, 2012. Web. 21 Nov. 2016.

“The Benefits of Scholarships for Students – Education America.” Education America. N.p., 23 Feb.  2016. Web. 18 Nov. 2016.

“Types of College Loans.” Types of College Loans. The College Board, 2016. Web. 21 Nov. 2016.

“U.S. Student Loan Debt Statistics for 2016 | Student Loan Hero.” Student Loan Hero. Student Loan Hero, 2016. Web. 21 Nov. 2016.

 

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College Affordability by Abby Corbin, Zach Newquist, and Jared Rutledge is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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