For this blog assignment, we were asked to write about one thing that we believe should change in higher education. For me, the first thing that comes to mind are the outrageously high costs that are typically associated with receiving a traditional higher education. According to an article in Forbes, which can be found here, the average student loan debt is $32, 731 dollars. This is the average debt, not even the average cost. Many people pay different amounts during college that are not reflected in the average debt. Additionally, when one considers the opportunity cost from not working over four years, the costs are even higher.
It is no wonder that people find it difficult to justify going to college given the extreme costs associated. While people who receive a college degree do end up making more money on average than those who do not, they have to get over a large financial hurtle of student loan debt. This debt is also expected to be paid at a very financially difficult time in many people’s lives. Many people who attend a four-year college are basically starting their independent lives as soon as they graduate college. At this time in their lives, they often are making several large purchases, such as cars, houses, furnishings, weddings, costs associated with having children, etc. While this is easier for some than others, and everyone has different situations and associated costs, it would be safe to say that people are spending more money than normal at this stage in their lives. Adding high student loans in on top of all of these other financial obligations can make it extremely difficult on these people who are just starting out.
While I understand that there are different options which can be cheaper, and that these colleges and universities must make money, I feel that there could be several ways of cutting costs for many students. One example of this is the student fees many universities charge every semester. At Virginia Tech, these fees total about $1,300 dollars per semester. However, many of these fees that students pay may have nothing to do with them. For example, every semester, I pay an Athletic Fee, a Health Fee, a Rec Sports Fee, a Student Activity Fee, a Technology Fee, Student Cultural Activities fee, and a Transportation Services fee, all of which, to the best of my knowledge, I have never or have rarely reaped the benefits from. I do not use the gyms on campus, have only been to the on-campus health center once, do not play rec sports, do not participate in student activities, have never used the technology help center, don’t really know what the Student Cultural Activities fee is but I assume it has nothing to do with me, and do not use public transportation (and additionally have to pay $315.00 dollars per year for a parking permit). These fees total $1,115 dollars per semester (or 80% of the total fees that I have to pay in addition to tuition). This comes to $8,920.00 dollars over the four years that I will have been here that I have paid with no perceivable benefit to me. Not to mention the four years at my undergraduate college where I paid similar inapplicable fees.
$8,920.00 dollars (double that if you count undergrad) would go a long ways towards getting me started in life after college, and I am sure it would help other students as well. However, we are forced to hand that money over to the university, even though the fees have nothing to do with us. I believe that this should be changed. If I am paying that much money for something, I need to be receiving some perceivable benefits in return, because I am already paying an extremely high tuition just to be able to attend college (which is another topic for another day). The costs of attending college should be more transparent, and we should only have to pay for the services that are relevant to us. Making students pay these unnecessary outrageous sums just makes it that much more difficult on us during a financially vulnerable stage of our lives.
Friedman, Z. (2020, February 3). Student Loan Debt Statistics In 2020: A Record $1.6 Trillion. Forbes. https://www.forbes.com/sites/zackfriedman/2020/02/03/student-loan-debt-statistics/?sh=622987b1281f