College debt

Tuition prices frustrate students, professors alike

By Anthony Ingham

With the start of the spring semester, a common concern among students is the ability to pay the cost of tuition and books, and whether or not it is equitable to do so.

The Pew Research Center published an article in October of 2018 called “More in U.S. see drug addiction, college affordability and sexism as ‘very big’ national problems”, where in a survey of U.S. adults, 63 percent said the affordability of college was an issue. 

This is up 11 percent from 2016, and is second only to drug addiction in the survey by 5 percent.

According to CollegeBoard article “Tuition and Fees and Room and Board over Time”, this is warranted, as it says that prices for public two year colleges, prices have risen $930 since 2008, and $2,670 for public four year colleges.

A recent piece in the NY Times titled “What Students Are Saying About: College Tuition, Homework Help and Loneliness” by The Learning Network discusses how some students from colleges, high schools, and even one from a middle school, feel about some of the bigger issues within college.

When asked if tuition was out of hand, there were a couple of different responses from four different sources. Two students from Danvers, MA, say that the cost is unbelievable, and that the ability to go to college should not be based on their family’s financial status. A student from Locust Grove High School said that someone would have to work minimum wage for 17 hours a day to be able to pay off their student debt, and a student from Oxford Middle School said that professors need to get paid, and community colleges are much cheaper, so the prices aren’t that bad for what they’re asking for.

According to the 2017-2018 County College of Morris budget report the college’s operation’s cost summed up to approximately $72 million dollars. The funding breaks down to about 31 million from tuition and fees, about $7 million from the state, about 11.8 from the county, about $5.2 million from out of county students, $235,000 from investment, $948,250 from other resources, and the remaining $16 million comes from student aid, grants, and contracts.

A non-scientific survey asked a pool of 20 CCM students three questions; Are colleges trying to profit off of you more than they should, is tuition worth the cost, and will you have any student debt after your time in college? When asked if they felt overcharged by colleges,  18 people said they did. James Thomson, a Creative Arts student, says that tuition is absurdly out of hand for those from low income families.

“If you’re working all that time trying to cover expenses, it leaves you without time to do any of the out of school work, so why bother,” he said.

Professor Clemente of the History Department said that colleges are an “edu-business” more than anything, and often lean a bit more towards the business end of things.

Out of the 20 surveyed, 13 agreed that college was worth the cost, and seven didn’t. Students such as Mckenna Greco, a high school student who is coming to CCM next semester, and Furkan Yildirim, a Business Administration major, show just how differently students can think about this topic.

“It depends on the major,” Greco said. “If you’re a Computer Science student, you probably have to go to college. If you’re a Creative Arts student, you probably don’t have to.” 

Yildirim said that if you put the work required for it, and you get education, it’s definitely worth it. 

Anthony Mojica, a Game Development student, said that books are ridiculously overpriced, and the fact that some teachers don’t use them is an even larger slap in the face.

While 13 said that they would be able to get through college as a whole without student loans or debt of any kind, seven still said that they would have to. 

Students and adults alike are willing to admit that colleges need money to function, and that they are willing to pay them to get their education. In order to alleviate this, students should look for alternative methods, such as rentals, e-textbooks, PDFs, or others, before buying their books. 

Student loan debt is one of the most common forms of debt in the United States, with 44 million Americans having a total debt of $1.48 trillion, according to Forbes article “Student Loan Debt Statistics In 2018: A $1.5 Trillion Crisis”. The state of New Jersey recently passed the Community College Opportunity Grant, according to their “Governor Murphy Announces New Jersey’s First Step Toward Free Community College” article. This just started its primary phase for tuition free college, and with this program, 13,000 students from 13 out of New Jersey’s 19 community colleges will receive funding to attend school tuition free starting in the Spring 2019 semester. 

Originally Published in the 1-30-2019 issue of the Youngtown Edition