Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Working, Borrowing, & More to Pay for College, by Stella Nathan

 A generation ago, it was typical for families to support their college students financially, but now as the cost of school and debt increases, expenses for college can no longer be “pay as you go.“

A college professor in English at the University of Wisconsin-Lacrosse stated that when he was going to school his parents could just write a check and pay for his tuition. 30 years ago it was the parents’ responsibility to pay for their child’s tuition.  Even if the college students had jobs, it was not typical that they had the job in order to help them pay for college.

 But now, it is almost essential for students to have jobs and work their way through college because parents simply cannot afford to pay the costs of college all by themselves.

The majority of students say they have jobs. Some have jobs just for extra pocket money, but other students are expected to help out and pay for their tuition. Some parents are not helping their child pay for school at all.

The results of school bills rising also affects the number of years students are spending in school. Students have to get jobs as well as focus on school. College is now 3 to 6 years long, when 30 years ago it was 4 years at most.

About 15 percent, 1400 students, are working on the UWL campus itself. On average, the UWL students are working about 7-9 hours per week. Some students work more hours but the maxim limit students are allowed to work on campus is 20 hours a week. 40 to 50 percent of
human resource students work off campus while working for the school. The financial aid office at UWL as well as the career services at UWL were not able to say how many students are working off campus in general, because they are not provided that information.

A student at UWL was quoted in the Racquet as saying that he was surprised by how many hours that he had to work during school. This student thought that his workload plus the added stress of school was even more than what he would be expected to do after he graduates and has a career.  The accuracy of this can be questioned, but his statements just go to show how tough it is to manage school and work. Students are thinking that it cannot be worse than this. That once they get a career, it won’t be as stressful as being a student in college and working at the same time. 

UWL students and families have to come up with coping skills to pay for college because of the costs. About 50 percent of undergraduate UWL students receive need based aid. The average scholarship or grant award is 5,185. In 2012, 71 percent of UWL graduates took out loans.  4 percent of parents are borrowing from the parent plus loan. Often times, parents and students are denied from the PLUS loans because they are deemed not to have enough money to be able to pay the loans back. Some of the federal loans are direct subsidized and unsubsidized Stafford loans, Direct PLUS loans, and Federal Perkins Loans. Students are also awarded scholarships and grants. There are Academic scholarships, Creative arts/performance scholarships, Music/Drama scholarships, Minority scholarships, ROTC scholarships, Alumni affiliation scholarships, and Leadership scholarships. There are also work study programs that students can apply to be part of. 

The cost to attend the University of Wisconsin Lacrosse will vary depending on where the information is found. The total in-state cost for attendance at UWL is between $15,061 and 17,869. The cost for out-of-state attendance is between 22,634 and 25,442. In state tuition costs are 8,769 and out-of-state tuition costs are 16,342. Room and board will cost students about 6,000 dollars.

The average number of students who receive financial aid at UWL is 74 percent. In 2012, 71 percent of the students who graduated borrowed money from financial aid. The low number of students whose needs were fully met financially is staggering. Only about 17 percent of students got all of the aid that they needed. The government is helping out less and less. According to Bob Hetzel, Vice Chancellor for Administration and Finance at UWL, the state used to pay 60 percent of students’ college costs by tuition subsidy, and now only 38 percent. The money that college students have to pay out of pocket has risen from 40 percent to 60 percent for tuition alone. Bob Hetzel believes that students will soon be paying almost entirely out of pocket with little to no state help. At some point, students will most likely be paying 90 percent of their college costs.

Hearing these numbers is frightening to parents and students. But the truth is that college students’ needs are less important right now in budget politics. “The needs and priorities of K-12 school students come first. Road work comes first, health care comes first, correction centers come first. That is where all the money goes. There is simply not enough money to go around and have it be distributed equally. The public is also not willing to pay more sales taxes or income tax,”  Hetzel explains.

UWL students are paying slightly more for differential tuition because the students voted that they want more teachers. So the teacher to student ratio is outstanding with more teachers being able to teacher smaller class sizes. But it costs to add more teachers. The UWL students voted and said they would rather pay a bit extra in place of having a more quality education. In 2012, the average debt that UWL graduates had was 24, 863. Bob Hetzel says that the debt has now risen to about 26,000 dollars. The national average is 28 thousand.