Poyer: Let’s talk college tuition

Columnist Sarah Poyer discusses college tuition costs.

Sarah Poyer

Some of my best friends moved back to Ames this weekend, which means we have been spending a lot of our time together. The other day, we started discussing school. 

Our time here at Iowa State has been anything but normal; we have only had one normal semester. We started talking about how excited we are for a normal year. That discussion quickly turned into one of finance. 

With COVID-19 in 2020, the Iowa Board of Regents decided to not increase tuition, which was a blessing for a struggling society. This kindness was unfortunately not extended to this upcoming school year.  

On July 28, the Iowa Board of Regents announced the three state schools (Iowa State, the University of Iowa and the University of Northern Iowa) would all see an increase in tuition prices.  Each school is seeing an increase of over $100 for in-state tuition alone. 

Out-of-state tuition is also seeing a significant rise in tuition. Students who come from out of state will see a rise of over $200.

These increases are coming after a very hard year. People are not super stable yet, and many of us are still recovering from the turmoil that COVID-19 caused. When we found out the news, my best friend from out of state was so upset. Her tuition was being increased by so much out of nowhere. 

After I heard of these increases and discussed them with my friends, I needed to know more. It seems like every single year, college tuition costs are climbing up. Between 2000 and 2018, the average cost of tuition had gone up by 33 percent. That’s a large increase for 18 years, and now I am sure the increase is even higher. 

Why is college becoming so expensive so fast? State funding seems to be a big driving force behind the rises we are seeing. If states are cutting funding, then colleges and universities have no other choice but to raise tuition to make money. According to one study, 80 percent of price increases in 2001 and 2008 were simply because of state funding cutbacks. State cutbacks causing big tuition increases is a problem. 

Families cannot afford these large tuition amounts. Many families are struggling simply to make ends meet, especially after the year we’ve had. Worrying about the cost of college is probably the last thing on their minds. Many students are likely shying away from heading to college because of the high costs. Higher costs driving students away from colleges is only bound to make a vicious cycle. 

We need to be protecting college students from exploitation of their bank accounts. Going to college is expected of students. We need to make it so they can afford to go and enjoy doing so.