Students applying to colleges these days may go into sticker shock upon seeing the overall cost of their education. While private universities now charge around $40,000 or more for a single year of schooling with room and board, public institutions, although about half that cost, are still quite expensive.
Why Is College So Expensive?
Over the past two decades, the price of school has doubled. While wages have gone up slightly over the same period, they have not risen enough to cover the increased costs. As a result, few people can afford to pay entirely out of pocket for college. Most students need to rely on a combination of student loans, wages from a job, or advanced planning to fund their studies.
The Rising Costs of College
Why does college cost so much? Many factors contribute to rising tuition prices, such as:
- Increasing demand for college degrees
- Less government funding
- Administrative costs for staff and student services
- Greater dependence on financial aid
The basic rules of supply-and-demand apply to higher education, just like they do to other goods and services. Since more people plan to go to college than in past decades, schools have raised their overall costs. At the same time, both federal and state governments have cut funding to universities, forcing them to increase tuition prices.
Larger enrollment numbers make additional professors necessary as well. Attracting highly-educated faculty members is important in providing the quality programs attendees and parents expect. Salaries and benefits packages consume a large portion of a school’s budget. Additionally, more students mean an increased need for tutoring, healthcare, and counseling services, which all require more staff.
While each of these factors contribute to the total price of higher education, income also plays a significant role. Although wages have risen incrementally over the years for some, they have not kept pace with tuition costs. Some people theorize that the increased use of student aid allows schools to charge whatever they please since they know most attendees will have to finance their tuition.
Will College Ever Become More Affordable?
Current trends show the price of attendance continuing to rise, but it’s impossible to predict the future. Other costs associated with college, such as housing, textbooks, and meal plans, are also climbing. Many politicians and advocates want to see tuition and fees lowered so that education is accessible to more people.
How to Make College More Affordable
Since there’s no way of knowing how things may change, you will need to be creative in order to cover your education expenses. Here a few different tactics you can use to help fund your schooling:
Pursue Financial Aid & Scholarships
Applying for financial aid starts with filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid or FAFSA. Once the government and school process the form, you will find out which scholarships, grants, and loans you are eligible to receive. Individual schools and some organizations also offer private scholarships and grants for qualified students.
Get a Job
Working during college will help offset additional expenses, like books, food outside of a meal plan, and even things like car insurance and gasoline. Finding the right job takes time since employers must be flexible with your working hours. You might go through several rounds of interviews before receiving an offer from a good company.
Consider a Second Job
If it fits into your schedule, a second job can help even more. There are plenty of employers who hire for entry- level work during the holidays. These positions are ideal for college students on break looking to earn a little extra towards school. You may also find part-time seasonal jobs available in e-commerce that can offset some tuition and living expenses.
Budget & Save
Having a budget allows you make the most of your available funds. Start by outlining all of your expenses to ensure they don’t exceed your income. Be sure to allow for setting aside a small amount as a safety net for emergencies. Use what you learn to adjust your spending where you are able to to free up more money for tuition.
Investing in Your Future
College is a great way to gain the skills and knowledge you need to start your career. However, because of the high cost, it’s important to keep in mind what you’ll do with your degree after graduation and how you’ll repay any loans. Compare rates and financial aid packages as you make your decision to make sure you get the best education possible at a price you can afford.