College Tuition: “A Never-Ending Trend Toward Absurdity”?

Ms. Greta Powers, CVC Culture Correspondent

With the recent CVU College Fair, students have the years after graduation on their minds. Questions on tests, applications, and final decisions are occurring even to 9th grader’s. A main worry is the unavoidable fact that college is expensive and getting more expensive every year. It’s well known that college will make a larger dent in one’s wallet than it used to, but just how much extra stress is being put on college students these days? According to Forbes, as of 2013, the total loan debt of students graduating from American colleges is $1 trillion. To say this is an outrageous amount of money would be an understatement. But will college ever be less expensive or are students’ tuitions on a never-ending trend toward further absurdity?

Matthew Seklecki is the Senior Associate Director of Admissions at Saint Michael’s College in Vermont and has seen firsthand the effects of a large price tag on college enrollment. He explained where St. Michael’s gets its funding: “We receive the mass majority of our funding from tuition dollars and that runs our funding budget. College is costing more than it used to.” The latter is clear, but it can be hard to understand precisely why college expenses are rising.

“There’s more competition between colleges, so we’re offering more scholarships and offering more tours to appeal to students,” states Seklecki, explaining how colleges deal with increased competition. According to the National Association for College Admissions Counseling, 32 percent of students applied to seven or more schools in 2013. People applying to so many colleges and universities certainly demonstrates the competition among schools that Seklecki observes. Of course, there are other reasons that tuition is growing. These reasons mostly stem from the fact that colleges are facing higher costs. Older campuses require more upkeep and the makeup of the student population is changing. Student populations aren’t what they have been in the past. Colleges are now trying to fit in the needs of adults and low-income students.

This new diversity in colleges can be good. After all, isn’t diversity something most institutions encourage? Higher tuitions, while stressful, could lead to better things. “Some students feel a sense of accomplishment when offered a scholarship,” says Seklecki, further adding to why paying more for college may be beneficial. In no way is anyone encouraging crippling debt, which is why high tuition is a double-edged sword. On one side, there is an outrageous cost to a college education which may be unattainable for many, and on the other side are some benefits to paying more.

Senator Bernie Sanders proposes making tuition free at public colleges and universities, among other plans to lift the weight off students’ (and parents’) backs. This has been achieved by other countries such as Germany, Chile, Finland, Norway, and Sweden, among others. However, it may be awhile before the United States is able to do the same. Some schools have tried [lowering tuition] and not succeeded. [It won’t work] until all higher education schools have agreed,” Seklecki concludes. Thus, until tuitions decrease (and there’s no telling when, if ever, that will happen), students should start saving up now.