WAMC News
2:18 pm
Mon May 6, 2013

College Costs Worry Students

Credit 401(K)2013/Flickr

With high school students receiving their college acceptance letters and choosing their schools this spring, the next big question is how they’ll pay for their education. WAMC’s Sean McGuire has more on this issue.

Besides studying, it’s a time when students spend their savings on energy drinks from the gas station, a slice of pizza or order of wings for dinner, and for some, the alcohol they consume on weekends. But when it really comes down to it, fun money is nothing compared to the cost of tuition.

A study conducted by CNN in October of 2012 shows that tuition and fees have climbed 4.2 percent at four-year private schools to an average of $29,056 a year.

With tuition rising each year, many students find themselves having to go home and work on weekends in order to help their financial situations.

Springfield College student Aric Gates is the perfect example. He acknowledges how living on a college budget can be difficult.

“It’s tough living with college finances because knowing that I have to pay these off when I graduate it can be stressful, especially when you have the stress of already going to school and having to get your degree,” he says. “Like, It’s not the typical college experience I’m getting because I am working 20 hours so… my free time is limited with working and going to school.”

Gates is not alone. A report conducted by The Daily Free Press in January 2013 says: “Of the 19.7 million college students in the U.S., 72 percent work at least a part-time job. Among these students, 20 percent worked full-time, year-round jobs.”

Conor Ellis, a student at American International College, also in Springfield, is another example. Ellis is a sophomore nursing student who commutes from his home in Enfield, Conn. to Springfield five days a week to help save money.

“It’s hard…My teachers don’t care that I work, and my work doesn’t care that I go to school so I have to make sure that everything I do I give it my full energy and I don’t slack," he says. “I need money. It’s not like I can’t work and I need to go to school so I can have a future, so, I got to keep doing them both, I don’t really have a choice.”

For some students, the financial problems they face may even be worth transferring.

Western New England University transfer student Nick VanOudenhove previously attended Pace University in White Plains, New York. He admits part of the reason he left his previous school was because of financial issues.

“Being in Westchester County really didn’t help my financial interests at all because Westchester is one of more expensive counties in the United States…Anything I wanted such as late-night snacks, food for the room, or going out in the city were extremely expensive, especially in comparison to home,” he says.

Director of Financial Aid at Western New England University Kathleen Chambers sees students struggling with their finances everyday.

“It’s very difficult to work a schedule around working full time and attending classes at odd times of the day," he says. "But, you will see like the older students working fulltime… because they’re starting to realize the loans that they have.”

Chambers knows the effect this could have for the future.

“The press out there is that the student loans are the largest consumer debt that we have now…That’s certainly a concern for the future,” she says.