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The Cost of College / By: Umar Sheikh

Higher education opens up a lot of valuable benefits and opportunities for students. College graduates have more career stability and higher earnings (Georgetown Center on Education and Workforce Study as cited in Nietzel, 2021). Graduates are able to pursue more specialized careers. College also allows people to build larger networks and build personal skills.  

However, fewer and fewer people are graduating college. NPR reports that U.S. colleges and universities saw a drop of nearly 500,000 undergraduate students in the fall of 2021, continuing a historic decline that began the previous fall (Nadworny, 2022). 

Unfortunately, college has never been more expensive than it is today (Dickler, 2022). Colleges are getting bigger and hiring more educators, so they need to find a way to pay for all of this. Many colleges are also gaining less state funding than before. All of these factors, and many others, are why tuition has been getting more expensive all over our country, which could be the reason for declining application rates.

However, there can be many ways to lighten the financial burden college can bring, with one way being scholarships. Ann Merrel from the University of Chicago tells me, “Scholarships are grants that help support a student's applications. There are many different types of scholarships, such as ones that reward students with strong academic records, or some for elite athletes. Students should be sure to always look for scholarships and apply to those they can (Merrel, 2022).” 

Another important way of receiving money for college is through state and federal grants. State grants are normally restricted for in-state students applying to a college in-state. Federal grants are much more flexible in comparison, and FAFSA or Free Application for Federal Student Aid  is the most well-known federal grant application process. Lawrence Li, a sophomore at Walter Payton, says that “The FAFSA will be the first thing I fill out because of how broad it is. The FAFSA is how many colleges determine how much aid I will get (Li, 2022).” Learn more about the FAFSA at

Going to college is very important but the immense financial burden can turn many people away. However, by looking at different grants and scholarships, you can lower your financial burden and enjoy the benefits of higher education. 

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