Monday, March 23, 2009

College Life

College Costs: Debt Or Delay?
By Heather Bates

It's no secret that the cost of education increases every year. Due to tuition rates constantly rising, and the horrible state of the economy, students are finding it harder and harder to fund their college education. It all comes down to a choice: is it worth the money? Various students have different opinions about what the cost of an education is truly worth.

In fact, nineteen year old Frank Pietrangeli, a struggling photographer, was forced to postpone his goal of moving to New York City for college because he couldn't afford it. When asked if financial reasons were the cause of him waiting an extra year to attend school, Pietrangeli replied, "Yes, it seemed like just when I had saved enough, and I felt confident to support myself, I'd look at the cost of rent for one month and tend to reconsider. I'd keep saving and saving."

According to Finaid.corg, on average, a college student's tuition tends to increase roughly 8% a year. This means that a student attending a private college can end up paying over $1,500 dollars more every other semester. Because most colleges do not lock in their tuition rates, this means that by the time a student graduates, he or she could owe close to $8,000 dollars more than when they started their freshman year. estimates that private four-year colleges and universities average around $25,143 dollars yearly.

For a student paying this much money to attend a school, such high tuition increases are hardly welcomed. Not only are tuition rates rising, but the cost of other financial necessities, such as books and computers are also more expensive than many students can afford. Is a college senior prepared to enter the workforce with so much debt to worry about?

Stephanie Aubel questions whether the price of pursuing her
dream of becoming an artist is worth it.

College sophomore Stephanie Aubel decided to attend the Art Institute of Boston for a degree in the Fine Arts regardless of the cost, but she questions the amount of debt that she's amassing. The school that the young art student attends costs her almost $40,000 dollars a year including room and board. “I don't understand why I ever believed that this kind of debt was worth it," says Aubel. Sometimes, I realize the weight of my so-called dreams."

With such expensive school bills, where are students and their parents coming up with the money? It all comes down to loans. Some students are forced to take out both private and government funded loans just to afford their college or university of choice.

These come with an even higher price, as most loans have interest rates of 8% or 9%. This means that a student can practically double the amount that they owe by the time they finish school. With a mere six months of room to breathe after graduating before beginning payments, college graduates are forced to come up with a way to start paying their loan companies almost immediately.

Frank Pietrangeli says descending into
a pit of debt may help create respect for
an education.

When asked about the cost of education and how it is worsened by today’s economy, Pietrangeli says, “I think it's ridiculous. No one should have to plummet themselves into a pit of debt for an education. But at the same time I also feel it pushes those who have the strength to better themselves. It gives you a sense of respect for what it is that you're doing."

Ultimately, the question is, do students feel that the money they are paying for an education is worth it? Aubel can only hope that it is.

“My opinion of debt and dreams constantly shifts, Aubel says."I am always crushed under the cost of my choice, but I know there's no backing out now. I've already put myself in so much debt that I need to work as hard as I can for my future. Is this money worth it? God, do I hope so.”

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