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College: A Business Posing as an Institution

By Jalen Thornley

Photo by Jalen Thornley

It’s no secret that college tuition has been rising rapidly since the middle of the twentieth century, but what isn’t talked about so much is how this increase in price has made it difficult for students to attend the colleges they have worked hard to be eligible for. When the University of California, or UC system was first introduced in 1868, there was no tuition for California residents, and students could attend the school by paying a $25 fee per year that “covered services not related to instruction,” according to DailyCal.org. Although this was nearly 150 ago, it gives an idea of just how drastic the change has been, with some UCs now costing $34,972. The cost of attending UCLA in the 1970’s was still well under a thousand dollars per year, which shows that less than 50 years ago, college was still much cheaper.

You might think that this dramatic increase in college prices is due to inflation. However, the average salary in the seventies hovered around six thousand dollars a year; today, it sits at forty-eight thousand dollars. This means that in the seventies only ten percent of someone’s income could cover their tuition, while in present day it requires almost twenty seven percent. This is a scary thought for many high school students, who worry that  attending an expensive college will put them into debt. Students at d.tech have thoughts about tuition and how it will affect their decisions when applying to college.

Although not everybody is worried about tuition, sixty percent of students that were interviewed at d.tech said that price would more than likely affect their decision. Junior, Daniellee Benfica, said that if the cost of college wasn’t a factor, she would “apply for the highest college there is,” meaning she would consider applying to colleges that are more prestigious but also more expensive. Additionally, every student interviewed said that they would consider attending school at a community college, as either a backup option, or as a way to soften the price of a four-year college by transferring later on. The total student debt of United States citizens now totals over one trillion dollars, which averages out to about thirty thousand dollars per student, which half of the average national yearly income. According to IBISWorld.com, colleges are a major industry, raking in $498 billion a year..

The most successful colleges and universities in the United States are known worldwide, and attract some of the most prestigious professors and researchers who are leaders in their fields. But many people don’t realize just how expensive it can be to attend these institutions. These colleges are slowly depriving students from being able to acquire more knowledge by increasing their costs, and this hurts many students who want to lead meaningful lives that inspire others and enlighten the future.

One thought on “College: A Business Posing as an Institution

  1. Minor quibble with what seems to be a presumed truth in the article: “Elite” doesn’t always equate to “More expensive”. Some of the elite colleges have huge endowments which means lots of extra merit and need scholarships for students who complete the FASTA and apply for financial aid. If you sort the following rankings by “Cost to Attend for families below $75k income”, Harvard and Stanford are 1st and 3rd respectively:
    http://washingtonmonthly.com/college_guide?ranking=2016-rankings-national-universities

    Also interesting in those rankings is the “Median Earnings 10 years after entering”, where you see that while Cal State Fresno is just as cheap as Harvard for those receiving aid, the average salary 10 years after freshman year is almost twice as high for Harvard graduates.

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