Cost of education rising as Bush reduces budget

(U-WIRE) WASHINGTON – The warped existence of college life usually consists of creative ways to inject caffeine into an overworked body, underground music sharing, constant colds and the adventure of doing one’s own laundry. However, today students may have to consider forfeiting the “best four years of one’s life,” if the costs become too steep.

In the 2006 budget, President Bush proposed the first reduction in federal support for education in more than ten years during a time when college tuition prices rise at unprecedented rates.

The proposed $56 billion education budget for 2006 misses the mark of keeping up with the rising cost of a college education, as most schools raise their tuition by at least 5 percent every year, whereas Bush’s budget barely makes it to a 1 percent increase.

“The cost of college is ridiculous, there is no way that kids should have to spend a lot of money for a good education. There needs to be a better system, where it’s not just the kids who have all the money and all the contacts, who have a good education,” said George Washington University sophomore, Jason Nagy.

In a CNN/Money article written at the end of the school year last spring, they diagnosed tuition increases in a range of 4.5 percent at Stanford to 11.1 percent for out of state students at University of Washington at Seattle compared to the annual market inflation rate of about 2.3 percent. With about 15 percent of college tuition’s hovering between $20,000 and $30,000, it’s no wonder people are taking concern about the costs of college.

Also, it is fair to note that tuition costs do not include the cost of living, books or other living expenses.

At Williams College in Massachusetts the tuition increased by 6.8 percent last year. Considered an upper tier school by most, the students their feel the effects of these costs, but have yet to consider it their problem.

“Well let’s be honest, the majority of students these days aren’t paying their own way. So, we can make second-hand comments about it, but our parents are the ones getting the term bill and writing the $35,000 checks,” said sophomore Williams student, Jonathan Misk.

“I haven’t taken out student loans yet, because I was able to pay for the first two years out of my own pocket, from investments I made and stuff. However, the next two years are all in loans, so when I graduate I’m going to be $90,000 in debt, which is not where I want to be,” Nagy said about his $34,000 GW tuition, which once room and board is added turns out to be a $45,000 yearly investment.

Community colleges with two-year programs, may be the best choice for students trying to save themselves from falling into debt after school since they cost far less than four-year colleges. For example, reported in the Washington Post, at Hudson Valley Community College in Troy, N.Y., annual tuition costs only $2,300.

Then President’s Education Budget is said to free up “$4.3 billion in savings by changing or eliminating dozens of wasteful, duplicative or ineffective programs,” by the Department of Education. However, with these cuts the budget will only increase the maximum federal grant awards by $100.

“$100 when I’m paying $45,000 makes absolutely no difference. I could go work for a day and make that,” Nagy said about the President Bush’s education budget increase for federal grants. “It’s almost like an insult.”

Both GW and Williams are private institutions not as privy to government funding as state schools and Nagy and Misk both said it was improbable that something could be done to stop the inflation. However, if a law could be created to curb tuition, both said they would be happy about it.

“Being a student in college you want every available help you can get from the government to subsidize our tuition, so if Bush is cutting the budget for education, that is not going to help us. I just don’t think that students should bear the load of paying their own tuition,” Nagy said.

Students bombarded with the thought of paying for tuition reaching up past $30,000 and then the cost for room and board look to futures of debt and the concern that their children may not make it into college at the rate of tuition increases. While state schools are still an option for many looking for a cheaper route to a college degree, the out of state costs to those schools are equally treacherous and lately state support for public universities has been declining.

“At public institutions, especially ones that are state supported, I do think it should be the role of the state government or federal government is necessary to ensure that all people who want to go to college have a means of getting there,” Misk said.

Misk, an all-campus representative on the Williams College Council, admits that it “sounds bad that tuition is going up,” however realizes that if schools raise their tuitions they are able to provide better facilities and professors than schools that do not raise tuition, which will decrease the stature of that particular institution. He also said that he thinks the general wealth of the populace is increasing as well, and if tuition goes up the University must also provide great financial aid packages, so it is a give and take relationship when institutions decide to raise costs.

He said that at Williams right now, the increased tuition money is mainly being used for the completion of a theater and dance center, a new student center, a new library and office complex.

“Although every student will not be here for the completion of all these things, the overall campus is improving and alums are happy that their institution is progressing, and that can only be a good thing,” Misk said.

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