Education

Isn’t It About Time To Rein in the Cost of College?

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April is always a challenging time for my students. The month opens with acceptance letters from the schools that many of my students have dreamed about for years; the end of the month is when economic reality hits for many of them. I teach some exceptional young people, many of whom have put in twelve years of consistent, outstanding work, only to be faced with an economic climate and college costs that are, frankly, out of control.

It’s hard not to be frustrated when I read stories like this one in the New York Times, which notes that now, even the admissions process is colored by financial resources:

This year, many of these colleges say they are more inclined to accept students who do not apply for aid, or whom they judge to be less needy based on other factors, like ZIP code or parents’ background.

“We’re only human,” said Steven Syverson, the dean of admissions and financial aid at Lawrence University in Wisconsin. “They shine a little brighter.”

I don’t pretend to understand why tuition costs at college are far outpacing inflation; I didn’t understand it when my tuition increased by nearly $1,000/year when I was in school. I do understand, though, that it can’t do our society much good to make top colleges unaffordable for those with the ability to excel there.

About the author

Don Pogreba

Don Pogreba is a seventeen-year teacher of English, former debate coach, and loyal, if often sad, fan of the San Diego Padres and Portland Timbers. He spends far too many hours of his life working at school and on his small business, Big Sky Debate.

His work has appeared in Politico and Rewire.

In the past few years, travel has become a priority, whether it's a road trip to some little town in Montana or a museum of culture in Ísafjörður, Iceland.

3 Comments

  • As a graduate of a rather expensive college who had to rely heavily on scholarships, loans, and grants, I too find this disheartening. It's frightening to me that with the constant talk of increasing educational equality, it will all come to naught if those under represented and financially unable will not be able to use their abilities because of cost.

    I have been engaged in many arguments about the "racism" and/or prejudice of affirmative action, but I wonder how those people who feel giving the underprivileged a head start was unfair now feel about the fact that it will be the over-privileged who get to go to school based solely on their parents' financial status. Affirmative action may have left a few out of their chosen classroom, but it was with the aim to give people who hadn't the opportunity for a solid education to finally achieve one. Now, it is those who already have every opportunity in the world laid at their feet who will garner the advantages.

    And, I have to add- I do not understand where all the money that many of these schools have actually goes. The university from which I graduated is one of the leading real estate owners in the country and yet just last semester, they sent emails out to everyone associated with the school asking for donations so that students who could not make tuition could be given grants. I am not implying that they should not have done this, but it's hard for me to believe these schools are so broke after so many years of making money hand over fist.

  • In my experience, colleges waste a ton of money at basically every oppurtunity, on expenses like buildings and aquisitions that are only marginally related to the quality of education provided. At least, thats how it seems being a student. I think that the high cost of education is a huge drag on our economy, whatever causes it. The ammount of middle class money that is locked away in savings accounts for years is money that doesn´t circulate through the economy. Moreover, just the stress of trying to get together that much money means that middle class parents can´t be confident with their own incomes to be sufficient.

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