The student debt crisis and tuition increases: how does it affect the JCU community?

September 18th, 2014


This country is facing a dire crisis.


In 2008, many Americans were defaulting on their mortgages, the loans they took out in order to buy a home. The financial crisis that followed caused what many call the “Great Recession.” Today, we face a similar issue.


In 2014, people are defaulting on their student loans. According to an article from the Wall Street Journal, over 2.5 million people are in default on their student loans. Unable to pay, they often just take the hit to their credit score, which affects them for at least the seven years that a credit report will show a loan default.


With almost 10 million total students borrowing money to finance their education, statistically speaking, 25 percent of us, the JCU student body, will default on our student loans. The stories will differ greatly, but they’ll mean the same thing: trashed credit, wage garnishments and having to borrow at sky-high interest rates to buy a house or car.


What are we doing about it? Absolutely nothing. Many of us have no choice but to take loans, myself included. You sign your promissory note at the beginning of the year, go through the loan counseling and then you can go to school for the year. For whatever reason, our families just can’t pay out of pocket for our tuition, fees, housing expenses and books. But what is it all going towards?


National average tuition costs have risen by 80 percent in the last decade, and the average cost of books has gone up by 1,200 percent. In 2004, it cost $20,776 dollars to attend JCU, with room and board (without any aid or loans). This year, it cost us –without any loans or scholarships/grants –$45,520 to attend JCU, including room and board. The projected cost of someone attending in 2019, and to live on campus? $62,601. This works out to about a five percent increase per year.


But that isn’t the issue. Let me ask you this: in the time you all have been at JCU, have you seen any significant changes at our school–real, positive changes that affect your education or your experience? Something, anything, that would warrant expenses rising by five percent?


The fact of the matter is, when the dust settles, we get the short end of the stick, the raw end of the deal. We get more adjunct professors, less spending on students and more annoying emails about the new administrator that JCU has hired. We get worse food at the caf – and pay more for it. It just doesn’t make any sense.


Let’s recap. Our costs increase every year, and I can’t really identify what those increased funds are going towards. We can’t afford to pay for our tuition and fees out of pocket, so we pay them with loans. Then, 25 percent of us will default on them.


The situation is untenable. But if Congress won’t do anything about, and JCU won’t do anything about it, who will act? We need to pressure our school’s administration to disclose what they are spending our money on. Not so that we can protest, but just so that we can know. Knowledge is power.