The costs of an education

By Kendall Tich

While getting my nails done before an event, I began talking to the middle-aged Vietnamese woman who was painting my nails. Our conversation quickly turned toward her children, as she has a son who graduated from USD just last year. I asked her what his plans were and she began to open up to me about the expenses she has already paid for him to go to USD.

She is not alone in worrying about college costs. According to CollegeBoard, about two thirds of full time undergraduate college students are receiving some type of financial aid. This is because the cost of college is continuously increasing and has become harder for many families to afford.

Speaking with this woman, whose name I later learned is “Baoyou”made me think about all the expenses that I, as well as other USD students have accumulated for us and for our parents and families while studying for four years here. In addition to tuition, I’ve had to pay for housing, food, laundry, transportation and daily necessities. All these costs accumulate and make attending college a serious investment.

In a recent report by CNN, I read about how college students’ tuition and expenses during their years at university are affecting their parents’ retirement funds because of how expensive school has become.

Baoyou from the nail salon has spent all of her retirement savings on her children’s education, and will continue to do so until they have both attended graduate school. She works seven days a week for long hours in order to support her children. She is certainly not the only one who must sacrifice money and time for the sake of providing her children with a college education.

Although graduate school seems far into the future for me, USD seniors have to quickly make the decision of what to do after they graduate. I too will eventually make this same decision, and since the cost of graduate school is increasing, that will certainly become a factor.Because of this, I am beginning to think about how the costs of college for my two siblings and me will affect my parents’ retirement and the money they have left after we have all gone off into the real world.

According to a report on graduate school done by Fordham University in New York, in a public state college you might spend $10,000-$15,000 per year whereas in a private school or top tier public school, you could easily spend $30,000 per year. This is in addition to the previous costs of undergraduate school.

By the time we finish our four years at USD at about $50,000 each year, plus the money that we potentially spend on graduate school, it’s possible to reach close to $300,000 for an education, something that is supposed to be accessible to everyone according to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. So why is college draining our funds and our parents’ retirement funds? Why has the price of college continued to increase by about 60 percent every year? Why is education no longer free and available to everyone?

Baoyou came to the United States from Vietnam where she “knew [she] would not be able to give the same educational opportunities to [her] children as she could in the US.” However, she is struggling to make ends meet while working extra long hours in order to pay for her children’s education. Again, she is certainly not the only one.

As college costs continue to increase, scholarships, loans and financial aid have become the only option for many college students. If we are being educated in perhaps the most powerful country in the world, why isn’t it more accessible to all?

As a sophomore, I have yet to see how much college will add up to be by the time I am done with my four years at USD and potentially another 2 or more at graduate school. Like Baoyou, I know it is a great opportunity to be educated in the United States. However, at what cost is this education? The cost of my parents’ retirement funds like CNN believes? It’s no surprise that college is expensive, but it is easy to think that graduate school or even undergrad isn’t worth the money after all.