It is no secret that tuition varies a great deal, but no matter the price tag, higher education is a financial burden that can lead to massive amounts of student debt.
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The student debt crisis is the exponentially growing amount of debt that is weighing down graduates. This debt is postponing graduates’ lives by limiting their financial mobility. The burden of this debt is limiting their ability to buy a house, have kids or even save for retirement. This debt is obviously an issue, so let’s look at where it is coming from — the colleges themselves.

Tuition at different colleges  

As stated before, many economically conscious students will elect to go to community college for two years. These colleges typically cost $3,435 for in-district students. While this is a relatively low price for higher education, it is still a heavy financial burden for students to take on. Even pricier are public universities and colleges, which cost on average $9,410  for in-state students, while out-of-state students tuition is a striking $23,893. It becomes increasingly clear where the issue of the student debt crisis is coming from. It comes as no surprise then that tuition at a four-year private institution holds a hefty price tag, much heftier than its other higher-education counterparts. The average cost of tuition, per semester, at a private college is $32,405 These numbers vary a great deal, but when looking at them, it is important to consider the differences in the colleges.

The reason for these differences

While the price of community college is still quite high, there are aspects of community college that help students save money. The first being the fact that community colleges are so close to a student’s home, which allows students to avoid paying for room and board by living in their own homes. Community colleges also charge on a per-credit basis, allowing students to pay for only the credit hours they truly need. This is why is it is so common for students aiming for higher education to attend community college for two years and then transfer to another institution.

Public colleges and universities are the middle of the price tag. They are great deals, but often only for in-state students. This becomes a problem for students who have their heart set on an out-of-state university. Public colleges offer a wide variety of strengths for their students and often have a stronger student base than community colleges. The problem is that public universities do not have large sums of money to give to students in the form of financial aid. This often means that the tuition you see on the website is the tuition you are going to have to pay.

This is oftentimes not the case for private universities. Private universities have the cost of tuition they post on their websites and provide to prospective students, and they have a “real” cost. This real cost is on average much lower than the original cost of tuition for the university. This is brought down by financial aid provided by the university. While the real cost of these private universities is lower, the price tag of these colleges is still high, meaning job security in the post-graduate life becomes increasingly more important.

How this impacts decisions

Often times, students will choose to go to college regardless of the debt they will have after graduation; but there is a growing population that does not. There is a growing amount of students who elect to go to a community college for two years and then transfer to a public institution for the remainder of their college careers. This growing population is smart — in a way, they are getting out of two years of hefty loans, but there is still an amount of debt obtained in community colleges. Even if students try to put the price tag of their dream college to the back of their mind, it is always there, lurking in the shadows. While it is important for students to go to the college they feel is the best fit, they also have to take into account aspects such as job security after college in order to pay off loans.


There is a great deal of information to look at when considering the differences between community, public and private colleges. What is most important though, is that students are aware and realistic about the debt they are taking on when choosing their school. The mere act of being aware and realistic may have prevented some students from attending the schools they did, and it may have prevented them from finding themselves weighed down by the burden of student loans. While there is a large difference in the amount of debt obtained in private, public and community colleges, there is always some debt acquired. This debt has led us to where we are now as a nation, at the student debt crisis.

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Posted 03.01.2017 - 04:37 pm EDT