How Much Are You Paying for Tuition?
By Brittany Corl
Through searching various news sources, I came across an article with a picture that looked an awfully lot like a famous building on my university's main campus. I clicked on the article to discover in fact that it was the building. Upon further review of the article, I discovered a fact I know all too well about my school.
The story's headline: The Most Expensive Public Colleges for In-State Students. I am a junior at the Pennsylvania State University and have dealt with the constant battle of tuition consistently rising each year. In-state tuition, usually, is much cheaper than out-of-state tuition because frankly the schools want to give their local state students a break and, more honestly, keep the money inside their own state and at the university itself.
I grew up going to the local school district in State College, or as the locals and Penn Staters call the town, Happy Valley. I was born and raised a Nittany Lion (PSU's mascot), so it was no surprise when I told my parents years ago that I wanted to go to Penn State. I had no idea at the time what my major would be or where I would end up in life, but I knew that's where I wanted to go to school. I guess I should have thought about the tuition back then, being the money-freak that I am.
US News posted an article about the 10 Most Expensive Public Colleges for In-State Students last week. Penn State topped the list at number one, with tuition for in-state students being over $15,000 a school year. The average in-state tuition, according to the report, is $13,000 in the United States. It could be worse, however, since overall in national universities, Penn State ranks number 47 on the list.
But this made me wonder about tuition at my school. It seems that every school year, around mid-spring session, the topic of tuition comes around. And it never seems to be “hey, tuition is going DOWN!” It's always, “well I guess PSU tuition is going up AGAIN.”
I took the time to visit Penn State's tuition website (tuition.psu.edu) and looked at previous years. I found two interesting things:
The first: tuition has consistently gone up. I looked at 1991, 1995, 2000, 2005, and 2009 tuition and it's gone up roughly $500 dollars every 5 years. Except between 2005 and 2009, when tuition went up a difference of over $1,000.
The second interesting thing found was that in 1997 Penn State started charging different prices if you were a freshman/sophomore or if you were a junior/senior. That sounds pretty odd to me considering you are still an undergrad during any of those four years.
You can also figure out what this upcoming school year will cost you. For students who go to University Park campus, are in the college of communications, are taking roughly 38 credits between fall and spring, and are a junior, you can expect to pay $16, 420. That includes $15, 582 in tuition, $158 in an activity fee, $472 in an information technology fee, and $208 in a facility fee. But what are these fees?—because I don't remember ever learning what they were.
Well according to the tuition website, the activity fee is “to improve students' out-of-class experiences at all campus locations.” And the information technology fee: “a mandatory fee charged to all undergraduate and graduate students at all campus locations”—in other words, anything that the university uses that requires technology, such as your email system, the university needs your money to support it. And that facility fee, well it's designed to create “funding source for capital projects designed to enhance student activities, fitness and recreation.”
So my thousands of dollars in tuition, plus all the fees, seem to continuously go up. I, as a Penn State student, feel irritated. I don't think it's fair to ask for more money from people who don't get government help (I do, however, get a discount due to one parent working at the university). But many of my in-state friends do not receive any help from Pennsylvania or PSU and are expected to just fork over more and more money each year.
Tuition has even effected my decision of when to graduate as well. I will be graduating a semester early in order to save money, because honestly I am not about to give more money to Penn State.
While I love Penn State dearly and bleed blue and white (our school colors), I don't feel okay with tuition consistently rising, especially without a say from students. It isn't right. How can you expect students to pay more money when they don't want to—oh that's right, you have 85,600 students enrolled through the university as a whole and you can find another student to take the place of one who doesn't want to pay.