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NHS Senior Ava Farro filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FASFA®) Form.

The Rise of College Tuition: A Student’s Perspective

          It’s senior year and that word instantly gets thrown in your face. Some kids hate it, some love it: college. It's the thing that teachers and parents always brought up and reminded you about but as a student you never really did much about. College is basically the result of a student's hard work for the past 12 years of their education. So, it is much more than a school you go to for four years after high school. It may determine the rest of your future, and the pressure that it puts on students is very intense.

          One of the biggest stresses for a student when making decisions about college is money. College tuition is usually the first time young adults face that amount of money that they're responsible for in their lives, so it is a huge component to decision making. Although college tuition is a huge factor, other things like application fees, room and board, transportation, books all come into play.

          The application process is the first step for students looking to go the college route. This process usually starts in the beginning of senior year because most application deadlines are due in late fall. Application fees can range from $30 to $90 with an average of $43 per application, depending on the school. This may not seem like a lot of money to most, but applications can easily add up to hundreds of dollars when applying to multiple schools. Also, not all students have the support financially from their families to pay for the fees. However, depending on your financial situation, some colleges will waive the fee for the application which helps students in situations like that. “I had to consider the amount of schools I was applying to because of the application fees. It was an added stress because I definitely had to cut down my list of options when applying,” NHS senior Ava Farro said. On top of the stress and time the application process takes from a student, the stress of money is already thrown at students while just dipping their toes into the college process.

          A big part of the college experience is living on campus to live the “authentic” college student life. Some people go places where they have no choice to live on campus or some students have the choice to commute but still live on campus for the experience. Campus living includes the expense of "room and board". Room and board is a phrase that means students are provided with a place to live on campus with meals provided comprehensively. Meal plans are included in this which is helpful for college students that don't have the time or money to plan meals on their own. Room and board can vary from $11,000-$17,000 per year. “I plan on living on campus so room and board is obviously a must, but is honestly the most reasonable expense compared to other expenses like tuition and books. It makes me feel better knowing I will always get meals and comfortable living, along with the experience,” NHS senior Sabrina Sperry said. 

          Finally, one of the biggest factors of college financially is tuition. It’s what most adults warn you about and tell you to base your choice off of. Some believe that if students were smarter financially, they would be going to community colleges or in-state colleges that will leave them in less debt. Personally, as a student, we know that there are cheaper options but the majority of us students tend to make the choice that leaves us in debt. The thought of the college experience at a popular, more expensive, school often overrides the financially-reasonable decision. These choices leave young Americans in debt for most of their lives. Tuition can actually vary from almost $7,000 all the way up to $65,000 a year based on the college. College loans are the most popular and practical route in paying for college. Yet, not everyone pays their payment on time, or at all, which increases interest rates, digging people in a deeper hole of debt. “College tuition robs Americans of a comfortable financial life after college. I’m not in a position where my parents are able to pay off my debt, therefore I will be in hundreds of thousands dollars in debt after my four years in college,” said senior Natalie Vitiello, a James Madison University commit.

          Yet, many schools provide financial aid and scholarships which really help out students and prevent them from being in great amounts of debt. “Financial aid has been a huge stress relief during my college process. I have gotten thousands of dollars a year from most schools so I feel like I have so many options,” senior Madison Walsh said. Thousands of dollars a year are granted to students who maintain a certain GPA. This is a great way to lessen the high costs in debt for students, so it is very important for recipients to show they are a hardworking student that is there for the right reasons. 

          It is clear that college expenses add up, which is a huge stress for not just students, but Americans across the country who are in debt. It's been seen that many students end up with a lot more debt than they initially intended to accrue because they didn't wholly understand the process. It is so important we inform students in high school about these expenses and prepare them for the years after high school so that they can be successful working Americans.