Out of control tuition cause students to look elsewhere

By: Alex Davis, Candy Rendon, & Lesley Watts

College tuition inflation rates historically increase two times faster than the inflation rate of the dollar, according to Simple Tuition Services 2013. With rates such as these, students may struggle to pay for college.

Baylor’s tuition was $18,430 a year with fees in 2003, and in 2008, the tuition was, with fees, $26,234. Baylor University’s current tuition is roughly $36,137 per semester, with estimated fees attached. Some simply cannot afford to pay.

This is the case for Jarod, a Baylor student whose name has been changed to protect his identity; Jarod said the situation has caused him and his family some embarrassment and stress, and he wishes to keep the details private.

Jarod said his time at Baylor was enjoyable until his family could no longer pay for the rising cost of attendance. If he didn’t have the financial problems, Hill said he would want to work through graduate school at Baylor.

“I love Baylor immensely,” he said. “But both my parents lost their jobs at the same time. With loans already attached to my first two semesters at Baylor, I couldn’t continue.”

Other schools in the Waco area cost less — in time and money.

Students at McLennan Community College pay by the semester hour, meaning their cost for classes is more dependent on the hours within the class. This differs from the structure of some private universities, where the cost is already determined, with or without extra classes. Specific classes with specific requirements such as laboratories will require fees, and students will plan accodingly. For 2013, the cost per hour at McLennan Community College is $106 for McLennan County residents, $124 for Texas residents, and $181 for out-of-state residents.

According to MCC’s 2012-2013 financial aid form, the cost of attendance for an academic year will likely cost no more than their current average at $16,062. For some, this savings is appealing. But some question whether other schools promise the same probability of success after graduation. Time spent in the classroom at MCC is shorter since MCC encourages two or three years of schooling to receive an associate’s degree, where as a student’s time at Baylor can take four or more. Although the two degree’s differ, one being an associate’s degree and the other a bachelor’s, the end result is still enough for some to get better work than without.

Houston junior Tumi Akingbade went to McLennan Community College after going to Baylor briefly. After discovering the difference in cost, Akingbade’s temporary decision became more attractive.

“Compared to my freshman year at Baylor, the difference is jaw dropping,” Akingbade said. “My school fees run about $2,500, including books. They didn’t really promise me much because I figured I would be back at Baylor by now, but I’ve had nothing but a good experience at McLennan Community College.”

Texas State Technical College, a two-year technical school system, costs $5,235 for 12 months (based on a 15-hour semesters) for Texas residents. Students are prompted to receive hands-on learning with the costs of student loans down when compared to university prices. Even the TSTC website slogan says, “Get In. Get Out. Get Hired.”

Kasey Neilson, a TSTC senior, said she couldn’t afford to take out loans for her pursuit of a dental degree. Her family wanted to prevent accumulation of debt after graduation. Neilson backs up her decision with appreciation for the program and the knowledge of her instructors.

“Being a technical school, we do most of our work hands-on with our instructor to prepare us for our work environment,” Nielson said. “They told me I should finish and be ready to graduate in a full two years. I started in January of 2012, and I will be graduating August 2013.”

At the time of publication, a Baylor official could not be reached for comment regarding students who transfer to community colleges.

MCC and Baylor started a program to help prospective Baylor students work towards a degree while attending classes at MCC and Baylor.

“I decided to join Baylor@MCC because it was my path into Baylor,” Denton sophomore Brittany Ladd said on Baylor’s MCC@Baylor website. “The Lord really had His hands on my attending both schools and I am so thankful.”

With many different financial decisions available, students can consider other financial options towards education.