Dream college turns to nightmare when costs are revealed

Dream college turns to nightmare when costs are revealed

Lisa Nguyen, Staff Writer

Many students’ hard work and dedication has finally paid off as they achieve their educational goals and receive acceptances from their dream schools. However, some are finding that financial realities are hindering their educational opportunities.

In an annual published report called “The American Freshman: National Norms,” the University of California, Los Angeles’ Higher Education Research Institute (HERI) affirms that more students than ever cannot afford to attend their dream college.

The 2013 report found that about 76 percent of students have been admitted to their first-choice campus, but only 57 percent of students actually enrolled at their first-choice college, which is the lowest proportion of students since the first report in 1974.

Although many factors come into play when choosing a college, about 46 percent of students in the report indicated that cost was a “very important” factor in their college selection.

Cost and financial aid packages play a large role in determining a college decision.

“My dream school was San Francisco State University,” senior Romuel Trocino said. “I didn’t even apply to go there because of money issues.”

According to CSU Mentor, the estimated average academic expenses at a CSU campus is about $22,488 for a student who lives on campus. The University of California system estimates that the total average cost of attending a UC as a California resident is about $32,400 if the undergraduate student lives on campus.

These estimated costs of attendance include the fees for tuition, housing, books, transportation and other personal expenses. The average costs were estimates taken from the 2013-2014 school year and are subject to change. The cost of attendance varies from school to school, and the total financial contribution that the student must make depends on the amount of financial aid that the student receives.

With that said, however, some students may not even be able to depend on financial aid.

“I can’t get any federal aid, scholarships or loans because I’m considered an international student even though I’ve lived here for eight years,” senior Esther Yewon Cho said.

Cho was accepted into UC Berkeley but made her decision to attend San Diego Miramar College, a community college, instead.

“Being sad about [not being able to go to Berkeley] would bring my parents down, so I have to be positive about it,” Cho said.

The high cost of a four-year university is one reason students choose to attend a community college first and then transfer to a four-year university.

“Financially, my mom didn’t think it was a smart choice to go straight into a four-year college when I could get the same education for a cheaper price at Delta College,” senior Jeri Ripoyla said. “At first, I was mad at my mom, but I realized that it was a better choice because it would save money. I know that the opportunity to transfer to another school will still be there after I finish my education at Delta.”

When it all comes down to it, College and Career Center advisor Janet Hobart recommends not getting too much in debt.

“You have to weigh the costs,” Hobart said. “Is it worth it to get really far into debt? It’s a personal option, but students may want to consider their second choice college.”

Most agree that a positive attitude is key to turning down a first-choice college.

“No matter where I am or what school I go to, I know that I’m still going to achieve my dreams,” Ripoyla said.

After all, receiving an education remains priceless.