Tuition plays important role in decision processes, leading students to loans, crowdfunding

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Cost is an important component in the college decision process for students, and it is leading to new ways of funding the college experience.

When asked whether or not cost played a role in their college decision processes, many K-State students answered yes. The annual tuition for Kansas residents is $7,949 and $21,090 for out-of-state students, both based on 14-credit hours per academic term, according to K-State Admissions.

Miranda Snyder, junior in mass communications, said she chose K-State specifically because it offered her a scholarship.

“Cost was the entire reason I chose K-State,” Snyder said. “K-State paid for my entire first two years.”

Before deciding on K-State, Snyder said she also considered the University of Kansas and Johnson County Community College because of their proximity to her hometown of Kansas City, Kansas.

According to the CNN Money website, the University of Kansas’s total annual cost is $22,037.58, including in-state tuition, fees and room and board. JCCC’s annual tuition rate, on the other hand, is $2,548 for Johnson County residents and $2,968 for residents of other Kansas counties, according to the JCCC website.

In comparison, CNN Money lists the annual cost for K-State, including in-state tuition, fees, room and board, as $21,529.

While JCCC’s tuition ended up being lower than K-State’s, Snyder said she chose K-State because it was close to her home, but not too close like JCCC.

Like Snyder, Paige Nickell, junior in wildlife fishery and conservation, said she also decided on K-State due largely to tuition and available scholarships. Nickell, however, said she did not even consider other universities before deciding on K-State.

“My family attended K-State, so it has always been a part of me,” Nickell said. “I wasn’t sure at first, but when I visited on a Senior Day, I fell in love. It fit me perfectly.”

Nickell said she received a scholarship from K-State during her freshman year, making the tuition cost a doable investment for her.

“I absolutely made the right decision in coming to K-State,” Nickell said.

Desmond O’Grady, sophomore in marketing and economics, is also a K-State
student who made his decision based on tuition cost. Originally, O’Grady said he wanted to attend the University of Missouri, but the out-of-state-tuition cost – which is $24,460 annually, according to CNN Money – was too expensive.

O’Grady said he receives approximately $12,000 from K-State annually, which brings his tuition under $10,000 each year.

With rising education costs, some students have turned to popular crowdfunding websites to raise money for their higher education.

By definition, crowdfunding is “the practice of funding a project or venture by raising many small amounts of money from a large number of people, typically via the Internet.” Friends, family members and other individuals can donate, and some college students have used this as a mechanism to help fund their tuition.

Benefits of crowdfunding include the ability to access thousands of investors, the ability to share and promote the project across social media and the ability to be more efficient by centralizing fundraising efforts, according to the business crowdfunding organization Fundable.

GoFundMe is a crowdfunding site used for medical, educational, volunteerism, personal emergencies, sports and teams fundraising efforts, the organization’s website said.

GoFundMe operates on a 5 percent deduction from each donation received. These
deductions are common for other crowdfunding sites also.

It is difficult for students to cover the higher cost of going to college, according to Larry Moeder, vice president for student life and director of student financial assistance and admissions. Though Moeder said he does not personally know any K-State students using crowdfunding sites, he encourages all students to search for scholarships outside of K-State, which is similar to crowdfunding in this regard.

“I think that almost – I say almost – any opportunity the student finds to fund their college education, they should go for it,” Moeder said. “(Crowdfunding is) not a whole lot different … it’s just another source that the students might use to find funding.”

According to Moeder, students should continue to apply for scholarships throughout their college years because they continue to accomplish new things that could qualify them for more scholarships.

At K-State, the average loan per student with an undergraduate degree is just over $24,000, while the national average is $27,000, Moeder said.

Because undergraduates are eligible for more scholarship and grant assistance from the federal and state governments, graduate students typically have much higher loan debt, according to Moeder, who said that an in-state graduate student can typically borrow $18,000 per year.

Working while obtaining a higher education can help both undergraduate and graduate students, though.

“For graduate students, there are many assistance-ship opportunities working in their academic field, either through teaching or research, that help pay a monthly stipend,” Moeder said. “At the undergraduate level, student employment is a huge option. Our student payroll is approximately $16 million a year. And that’s just on campus, so students are working a lot of hours to help manage their debt, (and) keep the debt down.”

College decisions can be based on cost, family history or something else entirely, but overall, O’Grady said he believes students end up making a good university choice in the long run.

“I definitely made the right decision, but I also acknowledge that … odds are you end up enjoying wherever you go,” O’Grady said.

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Hello! I'm Morgan Bell, a senior at K-State majoring in journalism. I'm currently a copy editor and writer for The Collegian.