As enrollment numbers skyrocket, many are finding that a college education has a big price tag.
With an economy that hasn’t changed since the 2008 crash, some students must now qualify for federal or state financial aid to pay for college while others take jobs in conjunction with school to pay for their education.
“I’m frustrated because I can’t take as many classes as I would like, and this is affecting my progress in school and graduating,” said engineering sophomore Tony Garcia.
Garcia has had to sacrifice the traditional college experience because he is ineligible to receive financial aid and is paying for his tuition out-of-pocket. Currently, he is living with his parents and plans on living with them until he graduates, which might not be as soon as he’d like, he said.
According to a 2009 study by National Center for Education Statistics, in 2005, slightly less than 50 percent of students enrolled full-time also worked at least 35 hours a week, with 85 percent of students enrolled part-time working the same amount.
Trying to find a balance between school and work, he’s left with little time to get involved with on-campus activities and organizations.
“I would like to be able to have more exposure to other students in different fields, because I believe networking is an important part of the college experience. I simply don’t have the time,” Garcia said.
This is becoming a trend amongst students who are not receiving financial aid and are reluctant to take out loans, ending up saddled with exorbitant amounts of debt.
According to university President Renu Khator’s latest chancellor report, a quarter of all the fall freshman paid less than $10,000 out-of-pocket for tuition and fees.
This is less than the average 2011-2012 net cost for private four-year universities which hits $12,970. However, the average net cost for public four-year in-state universities is far less at $2,490, according to The Chronicle of Higher Education.
There was a semester where Ortega took one class a semester and only two classes the next semester because of money issues. This, of course, delays graduation, psychology junior Martiza Ortega said.
Like Garcia, Ortega isn’t living the college life that she thought she would. She also lives at home with her parents in Magnolia. Every day, she faces a tiring and expensive commute to campus and isn’t able to be a part of campus activities, Ortega said.
According to Ortega, her family is supportive of her educational pursuit and help pay a large portion of her tuition, but she would like to be more independent. Her older sister is suffering from an illness that has left her wheelchair-bound and requires her parents to pay large medical bills.
“It doesn’t seem like it, but my family could use the money for other things,” Ortega said. “Some years I’m eligible to receive aid and then others I’m not, it really puts a strain on my family.”