Increasing at a Slower Rate
By: Rachel LeWinter
The increasingly loud noise can no longer be ignored as Vicky Goldenberg slowly turns in her bed to see the bright red numbers OF HER DIGITAL ALARM CLOCK glaring back at her. It’s 5 a.m., and while some college kids are getting home from a night of partying, Goldenberg, a 20-year-old University of Florida junior, is getting up for work.
Goldenberg is a full-time student who also holds a full-time job as an assistant manager at Old Navy, in addition to two other part-time jobs. It may seem like a lot of responsibility for a college student, but for Goldenberg and millions of others faced with the increasing costs of college, it’s worth it. “I do everything I possibly can so I don’t have to take out loans,” Goldenberg said. “Everyone makes sacrifices, and these are mine.”
The College Board, best known for creating and administering the SAT, recently released its annual report on the cost of college and student financial aid, highlighting once again the trend of increasing tuition. But the report offered some good news: Percentage increases slowed to single digits for the 2005-06 academic year.
The average cost of tuition and fees at four-year public universities increased 7.1 percent to $5,491 from last year, the lowest rate hike since 2001, according to the study. The tuition increase is significantly smaller this year than in the last two years, during which tuition increased 10 percent, and rose 13 percent the year before.
The report also takes into consideration the fact that students attending college incur a lot more expenses than just tuition alone. Students must also find funding for room and board, books, food and daily living expenses. It all adds up quickly.
Students and parents find ways to supplement the cost of college through grant aid, loans, tax credits and other savings plans. There are many options out there to help students pay for college. For example, if you get good grades in high school, the Florida Bright Futures Scholarship program will help pay for college.
According to the report, almost $129 billion in student aid was distributed in the 2004-05 academic year, almost $10 billion more than the previous year. So students who feel like they can’t afford college should re-examine their options.
The Bright Futures Scholarship program has held down student loan debt in Florida, said Karen Fooks, director of student financial affairs at UF. “The amount of students who borrow money for a bachelor’s degree at UF is less than the national average,” Fooks said. At UF, students borrow about $13,000, and the national average is just more than $15,000.
One of the reasons Melissa Softness chose to go to UF was because of the scholarships she received. “Technically I am being paid to go to UF,” said Softness, an 18-year-old theater major. “I have Bright Futures and Florida pre-paid, so each semester I get a check in the mail, it’s great.”
For more information on this report or how to obtain financial aid, visit collegeboard.com. For more information on the Florida Bright Futures Scholarship program, visitwww.firn.edu/doe/bin00072/home0072.htm.