It’s no secret that college tuition, along with everything we purchase on a day to day basis, is steadily on the rise. Being a college student myself, this is a relevant topic in my life and something I feel very strongly about. I am currently in my sixth year of undergraduate studies because of the increased cost in college tuition and in order to pay for my education, I’ve had to work a full time job while taking classes.
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After seeing several of my friends graduate college who fortunately had parents that paid out of pocket for their college education, I was envious that I was working twice as hard, taking twice as long, and would eventually complete college and obtain a degree with twice the amount of debt to be paid back.
There have been so many times over the last six years where I have asked myself Is this really even worth it? Knowing that I could have enrolled in a fast-track technical program and bypassed years of tuition costs and loan debt, has me questioning how many others are in the same boat as I. My parent’s and I all have good jobs with well over-living salary, but because of the constant increase in tuition, something had to give which lead me to borrowing money and starting my own share of loans I would have to eventually pay back. According to (LEND, 2018), the total cost of a public 4-year in-state college and university is $25,290, which is an increase rate of 7.2%. Over the course of 4 years, this totals to roughly $101,160 without scholarships or grants. In today’s society, it’s difficult to keep up with the technological advancements being made.
Because it is costing colleges as a whole more to update facilities, update technology, purchase new teaching material, and pay the professors what they deserve to be paid, this in turn increases tuition. In the same manner, because of the increase in college tuition, opportunities are stripped away from promising individuals who feel as though the reward is not greater than the risk. Because of the increase in college tuition, I chose to focus on three aspects that are direct effects of the increase in college tuition: 1. Decreased enrollment in colleges, 2. Slower graduation rates, and 3.
Negative impact on mental health. All three have been significantly affected by the increase in tuition. 1. Decreased Enrollment At Western Illinois University, enrollment went from 11,700 students in 2013 to a projected 8,000 students in the fall of 2018 (Vedder, 2018). Only a few hours away on the campus of Southern Illinois University, enrollment over the last ten years have dropped from 24,000 students to 15,000 students and steadily decreasing. The University of Akron’s enrollment showed a decrease in 20% from the years 2011 to 2016 starting at 30,000 enrolled students to 23,114 enrolled students (Vedder, 2018). Just these few statistics show the negative correlation between the increase in tuition and the decrease in enrollment. Rather than taking the risk of being in debt from years of hard work in the classroom, students opt to enroll in a specialty school that provides a fast-track to the workplace such as automobile mechanics, cosmetology, and licensed practical nurse (Zinshteyn, 2016). 2.
Slower Graduation Rate If the rise of college tuition did not deter students from enrolling in college, they might not stick to their four year plan. The average on-time graduation rate in the state of Indiana was 28% from a four year university (Rising tuition costs, 2015). Approximately 90% of high school seniors assume they will obtain a bachelor’s degree from a four-year college or university within the traditional four years. According to the U.S. Department of Education, fewer than 50 percent of students enrolled in college will earn their bachelor’s degree in 4 years and approximately 45 percent of college students will not have obtained their bachelor’s degree in six years. (Rising tuition costs, 2015). 3. Mental Health Affected It is no surprise that the topic of student loan debt has a direct effect on one’s mental health.
With an increase in college tuition, it is not unordinary for students to take out a loan in order to pay for their education. In 2013, 70 percent of college graduates were leaving college with a diploma and a generous $28,400 in loans (White, 2015). Imagine finally graduating college, landing your dream job, planning to buy a house and a car, maybe planning to get married and start a family, just to realize that because of your loans, you could have saved anywhere from 4 to 6 years of your life and several thousands of dollars in debt and enrolled in a technical school right out of high school just to be making the same amount you are right now. The thought of time wasted and money owed takes a toll on a person’s mental health and well-being. According to Robert T. Muller Ph.D. in his article in Psychology Today, the gravity of financial debt shows an increase in anxiety, depression, negative self-talk, and feelings of isolation. He also states that not only are the student’s lives directly affected by the overwhelming loan debt, but their parents are putting a hold on their retirement plans in order to help pay for college or help to pay off their student loans (Muller, 2018).
In conclusion, raising the cost of tuition has a direct impact on the enrollment in college, slowing down the college or university graduation rate, and the mental health of a college student or graduate as well as their families. This is no surprise to me, as I can say that I am a victim to the increase in college tuition. After researching and reading countless articles and seeing the outstanding statistics to back up the information, the only thing I am surprised about is that there are not larger decreases in enrollment and larger increases in reported mental health issues. By taking away opportunities because of the outrageous cost of tuition, we are losing future doctors, lawyers, CEOs, surgeons, pilots, and even college professors. Although I only mentioned 3 effects that the increase in college tuition has on students, in my opinion, I feel sure that there are more negative effects to the average student than there are rewards. Our economy should take a step back and do some research and calculations to make college tuition more affordable for the average American.
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