Although the College Board recently reported that the rate at which college tuition fees are rising is not as rapid as in previous years, families are still feeling the effects of tuitions which increase faster than the inflation rate.
The College Board’s data shows that although the inflation rate is 3.82 percent, tuition at a four year public college increased at a rate of 6.3 percent this year. Private colleges had an increase of 5.9 percent.
The University of Virginia boasts an increase of 9.1 percent, the highest increase in tuition in 2006.
“We are middle class, so we suffer in terms of high tuition. We can’t pay the high costs but do not get adequate aid,” said Long Island parent and teacher assistant Mary Soldano. “My family has had to cut back on expenses in order to pay the interest alone on loans for colleges [for my two daughters].”
Soldano and her husband Rick began by making small sacrifices, such as limiting restaurant outings, canceling magazine subscriptions, and eventually deciding to restrict their traveling, cease home improvements and lessen heat and electricity uses to save money.
The Soldano family’s situation is not an uncommon one. Increasingly, families are finding that they can’t keep up with rising college costs.
Keith Jacobs, a UVA sophomore from New York is becoming increasingly frustrated with his school’s costs.
“Everything at UVA involves overpricing, and they take advantage [of their students],” said Jacobs. “The state also only funds 10 percent of the school. So, the lower in-state tuition is being paid for by the high out-of-state tuition instead of taxes.”
A representative from the University of Virginia’s financial aid office could not be reached for comment.
There are a variety of explanations for why college tuition is unaffordable for many families. Rep. Howard P. McKeon, chairman of House Committee on Education and the Workforce, accused colleges of raising prices whenever Congress increases student aid. Maryland Democratic gubernatorial candidate, Mayor Martin O’Malley, blamed current governor Robert Erlich for not providing adequate federal student aid.
Many students have their own theories on the problem.
Nicole Soldano, daughter of Mary, and University of Massachusetts freshmen, attributed high tuition costs to improper spending by the schools. She said schools are at fault because they spend too much money “on professors’ salaries, unnecessary projects like extra buildings and televisions in the lounges.”
Scott Sternberg, University of Maryland Freshman business major, said outrageous tuition is “a big conspiracy by the state, particularly for public universities.”
In an effort to quell the questioning and dispel the myths regarding high tuition costs, Vena Khane, a financial aid counselor at George Washington University, charges the federal government with not providing enough student aid. She also firmly stated that there is “not a direct correlation between professors’ salaries and high tuition.”
George Washington University is currently the most expensive university in the country according to a recent report by CNNMoney.com. Khane attributes this feature to their “great location in the heart of DC which gives students easy access to various political affairs and organizations.”
However, Khane urges students not to underestimate the value of an affordable public education. She insists that students get less aid at private colleges.
“It does not make sense for students to struggle to afford private colleges,” said Khane. “It would be more beneficial for them to choose a good public school. The educational value is the same and at a better price.”