Looming debt dampers college days

By SpencerRoush

When I first made my six-hour venture to Chicago from Ohio, there were two things on my mind: What would my dorm and roommates be like and how will I pay off this enormous amount of debt I’m about to accumulate during the next four years.

Those years are almost up and my roommate experience thankfully only lasted a year, which made me appreciate living alone and off-campus even more.

However, I am still questioning how I’ll pay for college.

When I started as a full-time undergraduate student in fall 2007, tuition was $17,104 per year, and now the bill is roughly $2,000 more. This increase isn’t too significant in comparison to other college’s tuition rates.

The college announced on Feb. 1 that it would raise tuition by 4.98 percent. The tuition increase was announced to faculty and staff in a weekly newsletter, but the administration made this announcement right before the snow fell and the campus closed. The restricted time element made it difficult to investigate the increase more thoroughly. Additionally, students were informed on Feb. 4 with the same letter just before press time.

Full-time undergraduate tuition for next year is $20,093 a $954 increase from the 2010–2011 academic year. Graduate students will also see a 7.5 percent increase on average per program.

In a letter from President Warrick L. Carter, specific reasons for the increase were never outlined nor was there a breakdown of how the money would be spent. Instead, he wrote the administration is working to keep costs down while keeping its “responsibility to continually improve the quality of our campus, curriculum, and overall educational experience for our students.”

This is an incredibly vague statement considering the increase would bring a significant financial boost to the college, but he did say the administration would work toward allocating more scholarship money.

Using fall 2010 undergraduate enrollment numbers, which admittedly may not perfectly reflect the numbers for fall 2011, the increase may account for an additional $10.88 million to the budget.

This figure doesn’t include graduate increases, either. There is also no available budget to break down how these millions will be spent.

Similar to how U.S. taxpayers expect financial transparency with their tax dollars, college students should demand the same. The tuition increase is probably justifiable, but until the administration breaks down how the money is spent, students will continue to question yearly gradual tuition raises. The students and parents are the ones footing the majority of the bill and should reap the benefits of the extra funds.