Big Fees on Campus: Why College Costs So Much


Jonathan Kern

EVERY STUDENT’S DILEMMA Future college student Nora Morsi contemplates how she will pay for college. “Ideally college funding should come from the government, but we are so far away from that being possible,” says Morsi

Jonathan Kern, Staff Writer

When people think of college, they think about autumn trees, cramming for finals, and awkward facial hair. Often when parents tell their children about college, they always look back on it with warm fuzzy feelings. But, what people forget about is the expensive tuition and the crippling debt that is inflicted by student loans. College is now seen as important within the last

50 years or so. A lot of people see it as the next step after high school and the first step to establishing a career. But, with the rise of college tuition prices, it seems like colleges are just taking everyone’s money and burning it. So, it begs the question, where is all of this money going?

The story that a lot of college administration like to tell is back in the 50’s and 60’s higher education was publicly funded. In recent years that public funding has been cut, causing the price of college tuition to rise. This is a believable story, but in reality it cannot be any farther from the truth. Right now public funding for universities is actually at an all-time high. A reason for the rise in tuition is the sudden increase of full time administrators on campus.  A study conducted by the American Institutes of Research found that from 1987 to 2012 there were 517,636 administrators and professional staff added.  During this time the number of administration and professional staff have more than doubled, a rate of increase twice as large as the growth in applying students. Senior Nora Morsi says, “(Faculty) are the ones that are teaching us, So I want my money go to my education. Administration is important, but also I would really hope that my professors are decent.”  Since the beginning of the study in 1987, colleges and universities have also started or expanded new departments devoted to marketing, diversity, disability, sustainability, security, environmental health, recruiting, technology, fundraising, and added new majors, graduate and athletics programs, and satellite campuses. Some colleges say these new programs and departments pay for themselves; however, no evidence has been found that can prove that statement. Critics say that adding all of these new staff members has done nothing in helping college performance. Since 2002 the number of bachelor degree students who graduate has barely moved up from 55% to 58%, US department of education figures show. This disproportionate growth is causing payroll to rise and the cost of tuition is going with it. However, there is no definitive way to measure how much this administration mess is costing students. There are larger programs at colleges that are more likely to soak up cash.

College football is almost as important to the public as college itself. It started as a simple extracurricular activity and has become a multi-billion dollar industry. Drawing millions of viewers from all over the country, college football now dominates off season air time. Senior Manvi Saxena says, “I know to a lot of people college sports are really big. And for a lot of people I know it’s how they get through college on scholarships.” However, underneath the veneer of tradition and competition lies a dark underbelly. College football is one the most expensive and wasteful things facing colleges, and they have no intent of slowing down. Up to 80 percent of college tuition is used for intercollegiate sports, and a large percentage of that funding is used to pay coaches extremely large salaries and build grand stadiums to house the team. This would be fine if college football actually brought in as much money as it took. Unfortunately that is not the case: millions of dollars are just being used to fund the stadium and pay the coaches. Instead of making money, colleges are actually losing 11 million more dollars every year. Because of this giant deficit in America’s favorite pastime (let us face it, baseball is dead), college football is basically stealing money from students. “They’re just a side part that can be a way for people to get exercise. Also, it’s pretty dangerous. I don’t know, I just think it’s not important to education, I guess,” says senior Jake Poffenbarger. Colleges constantly say that college football is important and it is imperative that colleges continue the tradition, but this gross misuse of funds is almost criminal. Universities should be respecting the students’ investment into their education, by giving the money back into the faculty and facilities. Universities instead are blowing millions of dollars on just simply paying a coach. Many football coaches are paid higher than the dean of students. This system treats students as ATMs and colleges are about to hit their limit.

Despite the constant rising tuition, to many people college is required to be functional in the real world. This climate seems innocent enough but can lead to disastrous consequences.  In recent years, student debt has become the second largest source of household debt behind home loans. To put into perspective how bad the student debt situation is, this means that student loans in the US total at about 1.4 trillion dollars of outstanding debt. “I think that students should be responsible for some amount of college tuition, but not so much that they would literally be in debt for the rest of their lives,” says Senior Alanna Lofink.  Unfortunately, many students end up filing for student loans without fully understanding the weight of their choice. It is very easy to acquire the forms and lenders give out loans regardless of credit. This sound very similar to the housing crisis of 2008 which lead to the great recession. Now, this would not be as bad if all students graduated from college, but unfortunately that is not the case. Only about 40 percent of students actually graduate with a bachelor degree within six years of finishing high school. That percentage is much higher at private for profit colleges. Students who drop out of college are less likely to be able to get a high paying jobs and even less likely to pay off their student loans before incurring interest. This traps unfortunate, ill-informed students in a cycle of debt that is nearly impossible to escape and can be disastrous for the victims credit score and livelihood.

Normally it would be better to end this kind of article with a positive message, like “if we write enough letters, we can get our senators or maybe the president to fix the problem.” However, no one seems to be paying attention to this problem. Students are still getting loans at an insane rate. If the public does not address this problem soon, we may be facing down the barrel of a new economic disaster bigger than before that could have been prevented long ago, with minimal effort. To all the seniors out there, please pay attention to how you are paying for college. Look at the interest rate to see if you are actually getting a good deal. Try to rack up some scholarships. Remember, just because the college is well-renowned and expensive, that does not mean it is a better education.