College Connect: The debate about what it costs to go to college

Posted By Crystal Beasley

By Lauren E. Steffens

This year’s Democratic primaries talked about the cost of a college education and student debt. Here are some interesting facts I found about the cost of higher education from an annual survey taken by the non-profit, College Board. Some trends from the most recent 2015 report:

Go West: When it comes to lower tuitions at public colleges, the western states have it. The survey found that in-district tuition at public two-year colleges ranged from $1,420 in California and $1,680 in New Mexico to $6,510 in New Hampshire and a sizeable $7,530 in Vermont. At four-year schools, the published OUT of STATE tuition and fees ranged from $10,510 in South Dakota and $15,630 in Wyoming to $33,080 in Michigan and $35,710 in Vermont.

Lower funding from states: One reason the costs of a public education has risen is that state legislatures are giving schools less. State funding per full-time student in public universities declined from a high of more than $10,000 per student in 2001 to about $7500 in 2014.

What your state chips in for your education. In 2014-15, state appropriations per full-time student at public universities ranged from $3,660 in New Hampshire and $3,810 in Arizona to $15,160 in Wyoming and $18,560 in Alaska.

And of course, there is the crushing student debt. According to federal statistics, seven of 10 seniors graduating from public or non-profit schools have student loans – with an average of about $29,000 per borrow. According to FinAid’s Mark Kantrowitz, a student should find a starting salary of more than $30,000 a year so they can pay off that debt in 10 years. Those who have a starting salary of less than that would struggle paying off debt.

If you want to see how much people going to your school borrow, look at facts from the College Institute of Access and Success.


Lauren E. Steffens is a master’s student in studio art at the University of Missouri

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