BY: TONY ESPINAL
Remember when college was affordable? Neither do I.
I am joining Butler as an MBA candidate, but I was once an undergraduate like most of you.
During my three-and-a-half years as an undergraduate, I took out student loans to fund my tuition, books, fees and other college-related expenses.
Of course, I knew I would have to pay all of this money back one day, but it never really hit me until a couple of months ago, when I received a bill from the government for almost $50,000.
I could put a down payment on a house with that kind of money. Add the interest rate that comes with paying back these loans, and that $50,000 becomes closer to $70,000.
This got me thinking: isn’t it about time that we talk about finding ways to lower the cost of education rather than fight over student loan interest rates?
Don’t get me wrong. Student loan rates are an important issue, but a three-percent interest rate on $80,000 is still a lot of money to tack on to your college education.
In July, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau reported that student loan debt was approaching an astounding $1.2 trillion—and it’s still growing.
I know what you’re thinking right now: What does this have to do with me?
As students of Butler, you are starting, continuing or completing your academic career and no doubt have taken out loans yourself.
But have you really taken the time to consider how much your degree will cost you?
U.S. News reported that, as of 2011, 66 percent of Butler graduates have borrowed money for college. The average debt of the 2011 graduating class was $36,925.
Butler University’s website reports that tuition alone will run at $33,490.
This does not include room and board, fees, books and other miscellaneous expenses.
When you add it all up, Butler estimates that the total cost of your education will run at $49,008.
Unfortunately, I feel that this is low-balling it because Butler estimates that you will only need $1,000 for books. I am paying almost $600 for three books this semester alone.
The question should be “how do we lower the basic cost of an education?” and not “how do we lower the interest paid on the already exorbitant loans?”
The New York Times recently reported on President Barack Obama’s speech at the University of Buffalo. He argued that colleges that allow tuition rates to rise should receive less federal aid for students.
The president laid out a plan to create a federal rating system that would help students and parents compare schools.
While some academic institutions and politicians oppose the president’s plan—and I’m not saying that I am completely on board with it—I think it’s about time that someone addressed the bigger issue.
I am in no way saying that you should consider moving to a less expensive school.
We pick the schools we go to for a reason. Butler is an outstanding school. U.S. News ranks Butler the No. 2 undergraduate school in the Midwest.
Our education cannot be taken lightly, and, like so many other things, you get what you pay for.
However, I am saying that, the next time you are complaining about student loan rates doubling, think about calling on your school and your representatives in government to address the couple thousand dollars you’ll most likely spend on textbooks, or the $49,000 plus interest that you’ll have to pay back for your degree.