Each year schools throughout the country make adjustments to their tuition. While the general trend of increasing college tuition is often discussed, individual instances are not. I was well aware of the gross increase of American college tuition and had assumed that it was at least somewhat cushioned by inflation and financial aid, but a less than five percent increase in tuition this past year sent my whole campus crazy. Students scrambled to coordinate with their families halfway across the country or more about where this less than five percent, also known as several thousand dollars, would come from. Unfortunately, this article cannot put an end to almost yearly increases in college tuition, but it can help you cope with them when they come.
You have already begun the first step, which is to know that you will probably encounter this problem at some point in your college career. It is important to understand that the sometimes abstracted news about college funding in this country does affect you in a very real way. Make sure your family is also aware that their first tuition bill may look quite different from their last so that everyone can begin to think of how to prepare for the future. Keep a keen eye on any tuition news from the beginning of the school year. (The financial aid office will likely have considerable information about these kinds of things.)
The More You Know
One of the best ways to prepare for tuition increases is to understand where they come from. Generally they are a result of many small changes to the school such as increase in insurance or repair jobs to older buildings. Increases can also come from larger projects such as a new building or total renovation of dormitories that will affect all students and thus the amount students will have to pay.
Not Everything Will Change
When tuition went up several thousands of dollars, the most surprising thing to me was that financial aid for many students did not increase by the same amount. It became a huge problem for students who had been told that their aid package would increase to compensate for the tuition increase when, in reality, they still had no aid to reach what they were now expected to pay for tuition. This is partly because the increase in financial aid likely correlates to the percent, not the gross, increase of tuition. While this makes sense from the school’s point of view, it is a very difficult reality for students to adjust to.
What You Can Do
Once you have an idea of the tuition increase, you can begin to notify any organizations that you receive aid from. The easiest organizations to receive more aid from are those that cover a certain percent of your initial tuition. Even if a financial aid organization initially offered only a certain amount, it is worth sending them an email to see if they might be able to help.
Alternatively, you can look into receiving aid from additional organizations to help bridge the gap between what you have and what you need. You may qualify for organizations you had not considered when initially seeking financial aid, or you can reapply to organizations you considered in the past. Financial aid organizations are well aware and designed to help with tuition increases so that you and your family can adjust.
Frequent tuition increases mean that students have to be prepared to handle these increases. The first step is to be aware so that you and your family can think about how to find more money for tuition if and when necessary. This can be getting in contact with financial aid from the school, reaching out to familiar aid organizations, or finding new ones. While finding additional funds for an already expensive school is a difficult task, it can be done, and you will make it through your college years fully funded.