Every high school student knows the struggle of having to plan for college. For many students, senior year is the first time there is uncertainty about where they will be the next fall. Everyone talks about where they want to go, their dream schools, and the grades they need to be accepted However, many students find that once they are accepted to the school, it’s not enough to ease that uncertainty about the fall. Instead a new worry arises: paying for college.
Over the years, college prices seem like they have been rising faster than students can pay for it. According to a study published by the College Board last October, college tuition is increasing faster than household income.
Accounting for inflation, incomes between 2005 and 2015 rose at a rate of only .4% per year while college tuition and fees rose at a rate of 2.4% per year. The study showed that students have been taking out less in loans and receiving more aid from the university they are attending. However, the increase in tuition is still more than the increase in income and for students who are not receiving much aid, this can make the college decision process all the more difficult.
Many Leesville seniors are facing the college tuition battle today. For some, college tuition has been influencing their decisions since before applications were due.
“[College tuition] influences where I can apply because if the school is too expensive I know there’s no chance of me going there so I can’t apply there,” said LeeAnn Lucas, a senior at Leesville.
For others, college tuition did not come into play until after the application process. Once the acceptance process kicks in so does the scholarship process. For students waiting for regular decision, the next few months can be met with constant uncertainty. Nola Baldwin, a senior at Leesville, was accepted into the Berklee College of Music, her top choice. However, now she is struggling with the school’s pricetag.
“I still haven’t been able to make a decision…the scholarships that I got from Berklee based off of my audition brought [the cost] down…but it’s still too expensive. We sent in emails about financial aid, but they still [haven’t] gotten back to us about that,” said Baldwin.
The cost of attending a certain college or university can often make students feel as though prestigious. Often, schools that are considered “better” are also more expensive. As a result, even if someone has the potential to be accepted into one of these schools that student may not be able to actually attend. This can make many students feel as though their hard work may not be paying off.
“I feel like I’ve worked really hard, and I’m not going to be able to attend a school that I could [be accepted to] based on money,” said Lucas.
Students like Baldwin are faced with the dilemma of choosing whether or not they will attend their “dream school” or find another place to further their education. Baldwin plans on majoring in songwriting, a major only offered at a few schools, automatically limiting her college choices.
“For what I’m going into [the cost] is crazy and it makes me wonder if I should go for four years or not, or if I should just go for one year. I can’t afford four years and that’s pretty awful for kids and families that don’t have as much of an advantage,” said Baldwin.
The cost of attending college has been in the news fairly regularly for the past few years with many calling on the government to create policies that will lower the price. For now however, students will have to continue making the tough decisions about whether or not they will be able to attend the school of their choice.