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It’s an exciting and scary year for my parents — their youngest child is graduating from high school and will be going to college. As Sydney’s oldest brother, I want to give her my best advice as she considers schools and prepares to leave home. And of course, I can’t help but be partial to Iowa State and share all my tremendous experiences I’ve had here that I wouldn’t have gotten anywhere else.

But man, can she afford to be a Cyclone? We grew up below the poverty line and I had to pave my own way through college. I was fortunate enough to receive scholarships and financial aid from state and federal programs. Even so, there was never a semester without worrying about having enough money to pay my housing bill or get the books I needed for school. And as grateful as I am for the love and support from my parents, I could never ask for monetary support without disrupting my family’s financial security. I knew the buck stopped with me, so I had to juggle academics, leadership roles and two jobs in order to make it.

Looking back, I don’t know that I would’ve made it if school had cost a few more hundred dollars. Which is why I was immediately alarmed when the first tuition proposal called for the university to increase rates 7 percent annually for five years. I had a sick feeling in my stomach when the Iowa Senate announced $6.9 million in de-appropriations to the university. The day before their budget proposal was released, I was in Majority Leader Dix’s office where Student Government leaders were assured the leadership was committed to training the workforce of the next generation for our state.  

But how can the next generation attend college and develop workforce skills with tuition hiked, university budgets slashed, the Perkins Loan Program eliminated and the expansion of differential tuition in our institution? How can students who come from a low-income background, such as Sydney and myself, find the support they need when they go to school in a state that is ranked dead last in financial aid support?

The time for inaction is over. We have to contact our state representatives and share our Cyclone stories to remind our leaders why higher education is a worthwhile investment. Our silence builds great barriers for the next generation to attend college. Urge representatives to leave a brighter tomorrow for my sister and other aspiring students in and around our state.

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Letter to the Editor Submission Link

(1) comment

Steve Gregg


First, the bad news. Iowa State has become more than 40% more expensive in real terms since I graduated in 1977, when dinosaurs still roamed central campus. That means that you are paying the equivalent of what we paid to get your degree plus the cost of a nice new car, except you don't get a car. The university gets the car. So, that's bad.

The good news is that ISU only costs $21,000 per year, which is still dirt cheap compared to other universities. The most expensive universities cost $60K per year. So, you're getting a bargain.

Oh, wait a minute, here's some more bad news. Back in my day, you could work a minimum wage job all summer and pay for your school plus give yourself a weekly allowance. It was a pittance, but you can buy a lot more fun per buck when you're young than when you're old and fun is horribly overpriced.

Nowadays, you just can't pay as you go. If Mom & Dad, can't chip in, you will fall into debt. If you're smart, you won't get a bigger loan than your first year of salary. I'd keep it under thirty grand. Zero is best.

Another thing you can do to keep your college cheap is to plan and execute your classes carefully so that you don't go over four years. Most slacker college kids are on a five or six year party ride and they have no idea how expensive each extra year of school is. They may not get clear of their debt until they pass 30.

Also, major in something that makes money and is in demand, like computer science or accounting or chemical engineering or the like. If you major in anything with "Studies" at the end of it, you may as well have spent that tuition money smoking dope for four years. You'll wind up running a cash register or waitressing or bartending or driving a cab. Your boss will probably be your high school classmate who never went to college. Karma, dude.

But, yes, your sister can find a way through college. I take your point that a 7% per hike is pretty steep. That's 22% over four years. Yikes! And, you know, most of that money goes to hiring more bureaucrats which it should be shedding. Even so, there are more kids going to ISU than ever. That tells you that they can afford it which tells you that most kids are not paying full retail price.

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