Is the Price of College Justified?


Christian Haakmeester, Staff Writer

College is too expensive. Tuition for state schools costs tens of thousands of dollars a year, and for private schools tuition costs even more. Many people are deterred from going to college because of the cost, and many are justified in believing a higher education isn’t worth trying to obtain, when they can get a high school diploma and a low wage job instead of going into tremendous debt to potentially get a higher paying specialized job.

One of the biggest financial problems for a college student is the cost of room and board. The cost of living on a college campus is what makes up a significant portion of the cost of tuition, and while the cost of living anywhere is usually the largest expense for most people, colleges drive the price up and make students pay far too much to live on campus. A simple solution to this problem would be for colleges to allow underclassmen students to optionally live off campus if they have the means, and voiding the cost of room and board if they choose to live off campus. The option for living in the dorms on campus should be available to students, but it should be optional for all students.

Collegeboard reports that room and board for a public university costs over $10,000 on average, and $12,000 for students attending a private university. For a college student working a part-time job or internship without a college degree, they can’t hope to afford the cost of living. The financial options for students at a four year university are limited to getting a scholarship to help pay for college, or going into debt and hoping that the degree earned can eventually pay for an education for themselves. These options are not ok. A higher education that leads to a well paying job should not be a financial struggle.  

Another solution to the financial struggles that students face would be to reorient the focus of public education in the United States. Currently, students are encouraged to take college prep classes, instead of being exposed to the options of practical classes. Here at Erie High School, there are several options for AP classes, which have a focus on obtaining college prior to going to college instead of focusing on practical skills that can be used straight out of high school.

If students want to obtain a practical education, they should be encouraged by teachers to take CDC classes. These classes take students off campus to the Career Development Center in Longmont, where they can develop skills that are applicable in real life, such as welding, agricultural studies, and digital media production. A lot of these classes aren’t taken by students partially because they aren’t made aware that they can take them. If teachers and administrators pushed students to take more CDC classes instead of pushing them to take AP classes, more students would be ready to have self sustaining jobs straight out of high school.

Overall, the cost of college is not financially viable for students because many struggle to pay tuition while living sustainably. If colleges give students the option to live off campus as underclassmen, that would help lower the cost of attending a university greatly. Or alternatively, if students prioritized learning skills applicable in the real world like they are able to at the Career Development Center, many people would not have to go into debt just to be able to eventually afford the cost of living.