A Hillsborough Community College Student Publication since 1978.
By Megan Lamb
Student worries are no longer merely about getting into college, but how to pay for it once accepted. State officials have said that Florida’s public college and university students should expect a 15 percent tuition increase every year until it reaches the national average, which is $6,966 to attend public two-year colleges. The cost to attend HCC is $2,347 for in-state students, which means it could take more than 10 years before tuition stops increasing. “Families are paying about $172 to $1,096 more in tuition and fees this school year. The national average for 2009-2010 is about $7,020, not including room and board,” said the College Board’s Trends in College Pricing of 2009. For students like Heath Crouch, a second-year education major who has to pay for college himself, hearing this kind of news could not come at a worse time. Crouch holds three jobs and still worries about how he is going to be able to pay for all the expenses that college provides. “I’m doing three times the work and only making the amount of holding one steady job,” Crouch said. “It’s going to be really hard to pay it [all the loans] back.” For some, it may seem that college is becoming a luxury that only a select few students throughout the United States are able to afford. High school teachers are better preparing their students for college, but it is the rising costs of tuition over the last decade that is stopping students from applying. “With all the ways the state says they can help me pay for college, it still isn’t enough,” Crouch said. “The more they [Florida] raise the tuition, the more I have to take out in loans, which in the end isn’t benefiting me the way they said it would.” Florida has always been known for having low tuition rates. However, with this new plan of raising tuition by 15 percent every year, that may no longer be the case, leaving many students like Crouch feeling that they are at school only to work. Students feel that HCC is doing the best it can to keep tuition rates as reasonable as possible for them, but the rate increase is necessary to cover the costs of teacher salaries and other education resources. According to the College Board’s Trends in College Pricing of 2009, while these increases may be necessary, they also have the effect of limiting access to a college education.