The Rising Cost of College


Sophia Prossilis and Julin Sivriev

The price of a college education is soaring. These days, a college education can even cost more than a house. The price of college has been increasing at an alarming rate since the 1980s. From 1989 to 2016, the annual growth rate for the cost of a four-year university was a little over 2.6% every year, which means that the price of a degree has doubled since the 1980s. However, while the cost of college is readily increasing, wages have remained stagnant. From that same twenty-seven year time period, the annual growth rate in wages was a mere 0.3%. Therefore, from 1989 to 2016, the cost to attend college has increased over eight times faster than wages have. More often than not, students and their families do not make enough money to pay such exorbitant tuitions and costs, so they must take out loans to pay for their education. Now, student loans make up the largest amount of non-housing debt at about 1.4 trillion dollars. Wayne Valley seniors agree. Wayne Valley senior Maria Lousidis adds, “Students who want to get a higher level of education shouldn’t have to worry too much about expenses. Also, kids who really can’t afford it are not given the same opportunities as those who can.”

The combination of increasing student loans and non-changing wages creates a vicious cycle that explains why so many adults struggle with nagging student debt. This problem is also troubling to high school students who are starting to look at colleges themselves. Now, students’ college decisions are heavily influenced by the amount of debt they will be in after graduating. Senior Alexa Tolli laments,“Students shouldn’t have to go into tremendous amounts of debt in order to get an education and a good job.” Who would have thought that debt would so heavily influence the rest of a student’s academic life? Unfortunately, a 4-year degree now may not return on the investment it took to get it.

While the expense of college can be unbearable to even think about, there is a way to slightly alleviate the costs: scholarships. Students can receive financial aid and scholarships directly from the schools they apply to, but there are also outside scholarships that can significantly cut the cost of education. Most people are unaware that sometimes a student can receive a huge scholarship for writing a simple “essay” within 250 characters! For instance, the Create-a-Greeting Card Scholarship awards $10,000 to students for creating their own greeting card if it is picked by a panel of judges. There are thousands of scholarships available for anyone who wants to apply, and they can easily be found through the internet. The guidance department also posts scholarship opportunities on Naviance frequently!

Obtaining fee waiver codes is another way to save money when applying for college. Not only is college expensive to actually attend, but applying can be quite expensive as well. Milica Rodic goes on to explain,“All of my applications cost at least $75 and when you apply to many colleges those costs add up. ” If you are a junior or senior, check Naviance to see how you can go on a college “visit” with the school your interested in. Colleges visit Wayne Valley to spread information about their institution, and they usually give out fee waiver codes. These codes can erase fees that are usually anywhere from fifty to eighty dollars. This is especially helpful if you are a student applying to many schools, as these application fees pile up.
Despite the fact that college costs are rising, students still are motivated to go. Valley senior  Aaron Bienstock says, “I think college is too expensive but it motivates you to work hard and get your money’s worth.”