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NHS Chief Advocate

Jackson: Unreasonable Expenses of Higher Education

The+Toscano+Family+Ice+Forum+is+the+latest+facility+upgrade+at+the+University+of+Connecticut.+It+cost+%2470+million+--+and+UConns+tuition+fees+continue+to+rise.+%28Courtesy+of+RosaSeaOtter%2FWikimedia+Commons%29
The Toscano Family Ice Forum is the latest facility upgrade at the University of Connecticut. It cost $70 million — and UConn’s tuition fees continue to rise. (Courtesy of RosaSeaOtter/Wikimedia Commons)

WOODBURY — As senior year progresses, so does the annoyance of getting up at 6 a.m. for the first class at 7:25 or still having to ask to use the restroom. Hearing passive-aggressive comments begrudgingly from teachers about phones for the fourth time in one 48-minute class period. Seniors grasp onto the idea of college because of the amount of freedom, though this comes at just the small price of $36,000 a year.

The average tuition fee is $36,436 per year; the nation-wide average middle class income is $75,000. In 2000, the average middle class income was $42,148, but the average tuition fee was a mere $3,349. That’s a 77% increase for income and a 987% increase for tuition fee according to The Education Data Initiative.

“Many universities, including UConn, have put so much money into the facilities and not necessarily impacting the level of education,” said Kathy Green, Nonnewaug’s College and Career Resource Center counselor. “The cost is now falling on the buyer: the students and their families. It’s not that education is getting better but things look prettier and fresher.” 

Green’s reference to UConn is particularly apt since our state’s flagship university makes seismic investments in its campus.

For UConn, a fresh new look must include the brand-new Toscano Family Ice Forum. The new rink that was finished a little over a year ago cost $70 million, and Dan Hurley, the men’s basketball coach at UConn, signed a $32.1 million contract last summer that will keep him in Storrs until 2029. The school’s basketball success will mean an even larger contract for Hurley — and the state will need to find a way to pay for it. 

As coaches are getting paid millions, student struggle to keep afloat under the immense amount of debt from student loans.

Bringing on thousands (or hundreds of thousands) of dollars of debt at a young age could be life-changing. Most kids are not educated on the costs of college or how much interest rates can affect payments; this can accumulate mountains of debt.

“Of course my goal is to graduate with zero college debt,” Nonnewaug senior Maggie Keane said who will be attending UMass this fall. “I have parental support, which relieves a lot of stress.”

Some kids don’t have any financial support from parents. This doesn’t even take into account the years after graduation, where this debt will accumulate interest. This can be detrimental to those beginner years of adulthood. 

Debt has been glorified by high school graduates and even started a popular trend.

The Naugatuck Valley Community College Waterbury Campus, a safety net for students who little financial support. (Courtesy of Naugatuck Valley Community College)

There was a trend on TikTok where people who were committed to college were saying they had $150,000 of college debt, one example being at New York University. Some of these students implied that $150,000 of debt is something you can brush off your shoulder because you are going to a top choice of universities. 

Education is crucial to some of the most important roles in society, especially in the medical field. I just don’t think it should be the cost of a two-bedroom house ($202,453 average according to The Education Initiative data) to become a doctor. It just seems to be so much fuss and obstacles for students trying to better themselves.

College is a great experience to go explore new options and other areas, especially when you graduate from a class of 160 students in a town you can drive across in 15 minutes. More students should have better opportunities to become something great and follow their dreams without draining their bank account. 

An option that people are drawn to is community college, a cheaper and more accessible way to get a great college education. The main attraction after college is seeing a new place and experiencing a different type of living.

“I thought about both options of a four-year college and community college,” said Alex Chaberek, a Nonnewaug senior who plays on attending community college. “Although a four-year sounded more fun, I would much rather save up money for my future.”

So comparing the options, community college is a great way to get educated, but it may limit your exploratory learning. A four-year college may offer worldly experience, but it can put someone into a lifetime worth of debt. If this trend continues, the next generation will be saddled with something even more powerful than a college degree: the weight of a lifetime of loans. 

This is the opinion of Chief Advocate senior editor Kaylee Jackson, a senior at Nonnewaug.

About the Contributor
Kaylee Jackson '24
Kaylee Jackson '24, Senior Editor
Kaylee Jackson is a senior at Nonnewaug and is in her second year of the Chief Advocate program, now as a senior editor. She has played on the volleyball team for all four years of her high school career, and she enjoys writing about sports and local events. When Kaylee graduates, she wants to go to dental school and become a hygienist.
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