College Costs & Concerns

College Costs & Concerns

Ella Jones

For Tosa West students and parents, the choice of which college a student attends is heavily influenced by the cost of college. 

Tosa West Senior Edie Eckblad finds that college costs prove to be very important when deciding the right college for her. Deciding to go to a college outside of Wisconsin would be a huge decision for her and her family, and the price of college would definitely be something for them to strongly consider. 

“[Money] is a pretty big factor because if I wanted to go out of state, it would be a really big decision for my family. I think my parents would consider it, but they would definitely take the money factor [into consideration] over a lot of stuff,” said Eckblad. Eckblad is not alone. Many seniors at Tosa West have a similar outlook. 

Cost is the biggest factor students consider when choosing a college. And parents agree. According to a 15 question Google form survey that was emailed to all parents, 95% of the 41 respondents agree that cost is a factor in determining which college their child would go to. 

Some students grow up fantasizing that one day they will be able to attend their dream college. They work as hard as they can to get into the school that they want, and they let nothing stop them. But as they grow up, the cost of college starts to set in, and it becomes a huge limiting factor. 

“Since I was little, I have always wanted to go to a private school (Concordia), but as I am getting older and realize the costs of it, I realized I needed to look at cheaper schools because the career I am interested in does not make me enough money to pay for a private education,” said senior Anna Strand. 

Another student shares similar remarks about how cost impacts their college choice. 

“If I get accepted into Harvard, the only way I’d go is if I had a full-ride, regardless of how good it is,” said senior Jordan Nash. 

Some parents also agree that college costs may get in the way of their child’s dreams.

“There is a limit for affordability and the choice of college has to be within this only. Even if it compromises his dreams,” says Venkata Subramaniyan, the parent of a high school senior.

College is very expensive, and with that comes some real fears. Student loan debt has been a burden on people across the country, and when students think of college, debt usually accompanies that thought. 

“If I know I won’t be able to pay for a college in a reasonable amount of time, I may not go there because I don’t want debt as a burden for a large part of my life,” said senior Alexa Pitcher. 

Some students also shared similar comments about their fear of debt after college.

“I feel that if I go to college, I will be in debt for a long time and that will have consequences to my life, but I need college to be successful,” said Junior Elizabeth England. 

Students hear stories about adults who are still struggling to pay off their college loans. They hear stories about the ways that college debt affects other aspects of their lives. Through my survey, one parent shared her personal experience with people who were still impacted by their college costs.

“When I was a high school senior, I had zero concept of how loans worked and what it would mean in dollars per month when I was done with college.  I was lucky (maybe even privileged?) that my parents funded a good deal of my college education, but I still had some loans I had to pay on my own. I was fortunate that they were paid off in my 20s.   However, I now have friends and colleagues – all working professionals – that are STILL paying student loans into their 40s and 50s – that is a huge lifetime burden.  Students have to be smart about their choices and what it will mean in the long run,” said Teresa Wooster, the parent of high school students. 

When it’s time to pay for college, every family has their own system for how they are going to do it. According to a survey created by the author, 56% of students said that they were paying for their own college, 25% of students said that they were paying for part of their college, and 19% said that their parents were paying for college. This burden of having to pay for college can be overwhelming and bring up a lot of fearful feelings about the future. 

“I definitely have a fear of spending all of my money and not running out. I definitely have to think about if I’m going to work in college. I’m going to somehow balance school and a job because I definitely want to have financial comfort in college,” says Eckblad.

Another senior at West shared their fears about attending college and the costs that come with that.

“[I fear that] halfway through college, I’ll feel that I don’t want to do it anymore, and all that money goes towards nothing,” says senior Maddie Trotter.

Although paying for college can be scary, and cause anxiety, it’s important to remember that a lot of people go through this experience. There is always going to be someone who you can talk to about these emotions and worries. There are also a lot of educational resources out there that can aid you in understanding what paying for college really means, and how to get through that. 

“Money concerns are scary. But, just like any difficult topic, the more you understand it, the less scary it becomes. Some colleges are more expensive than others. In Wisconsin, Marquette costs way more than UW Whitewater. Thank you for bringing this issue into the open for discussion. People need to talk about hard things,” says Erik Peterson, the parent of a high school student.