Live and love in Colo. but go to college elsewhere

CU_Boulder

University of Colorado, Boulder (Photo: University of Colorado)

I worry a lot. I’m always worrying about something. I’m really good at. Worrywart for hire!

Today I’m worrying about how on earth my grandkids are going to get a college education in this state. Public education, you say? University of Colorado, perhaps? After all, Grandma went there for a year, and she paid out-of-state tuition to do it!

Well, the Board of Regents at CU just voted to raise in-state tuition by 8.7% for the Boulder campus for next year. Tolerable for one year, maybe, but that’s been the approximate increase every year for the last five years. I don’t know how any student or student’s parents can deal with increases like that.

According to one of the regents who voted against the increase, “since the 2001-02 school year, tuition and fees will have gone from $4,323 a year to $10,186 a year, with the upcoming 8.7% bump. That’s an increase of 136 percent.”

Regents claim the big hike is necessary. They say they need to increase faculty and staff salaries to compete with other schools that would recruit them, and thus voted them a 3.1% salary increase. (Hmm, do regents count as “faculty”?) Also, reportedly, Colorado ranks a pathetic 48th in supporting its higher education institutions, so tuition has to make up for that lack of support.

Yet at the same time, out-of-state tuition was only increased 1.9%. Regents didn’t want to “discourage” those students from coming to CU. And they’ve actually lowered tuition for the state’s undocumented immigrants.

Maybe my son could move out of state and then send the kids back here as out-of-state students. Or maybe they’ll earn full scholarships to Stanford or Harvard or someplace else. Then again, maybe they won’t even go to college. Who knows? They’re only 7 and 10 right now.

Still, I worry.
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Average Resident Student's Share of State College (Tuition vs. State Funding) Adjusted for Inflation (Image: Colorado Commission on Higher Education)

Average Resident Student’s Share of State College (Tuition vs. State Funding) Adjusted for Inflation (Source: Colorado Commission on Higher Education)



Categories: Education, Money

7 replies

  1. A college education should not be so expensive, should it? The problem though is that the marketplace for college degrees isn’t working properly. There’s something terribly wrong when the payroll for administrators rivals that for the teachers.

    Scholarships are a good way to go for kids who score high in tests. The endowments of colleges and universities are fully aware that they gain immensely by skimming the cream of raw talent because that is a much more powerful source of success than quality of teaching. In the sheepskin industry, reputation rules, and that reputation rests on job success, and job success rests on talent. The dragon eats its tail and first thing you know, you have . . . the Ivy League!!

    We need more public clarity on the issue and we need to change the meme that everyone needs to rack up massive college-loan debt to get a degree. In other words, shift the emphasis from “how to pay for it?” to “where’s the best value for the money I’ve got?”. PT, have your grandkids looked into the notion of doing their basics, English, math, etc., at a community or small school and then finishing at U. Colorado? The material’s pretty much the same and the teaching might very well be better – most of the prof’s at the big schools leave it to T.A.’s and the like, last I heard.

    • CU had very few TA’s teaching when my daughter was there – full heavy-duty professors with solid research reputations. Small classes and lots of teacher-student interactions
      CO residents had a real bargain there for a long time.
      But you are so right about using community colleges for basics. (and in school, select courses that will actually be worth something when looking for a job/career…take “fun stuff” after you graduate)
      And it’s important to find the school that has programs/ strong departments in the field that is of interest – Even Ivy League doesn’t offer the best preparation for many careers these day. Read up on who’s doing the teaching/instruction at the school, who’s leaders in the field, who’s turning out the valid research. You can’t tell a university by it’s “cover”/reputation any more. Much more research involved to make sure you are getting your money’s worth with higher ed. these days

    • It won’t be my decision, of course. All I can do is sit on the sidelines and cross my fingers. I’ve thought about community colleges. There’s a mind-numbing number of them in the area. I can’t imagine trying to sort through them and find the better ones, but that’s the sort of information parents exchange as their kids are growing up.

      You’re right about the T.A.’s. They were common even when I was in school, and it always annoyed me that I was paying good money for my classes and not even getting “real” teachers. We used to joke about a tape recorder at every desk recording the tape that was playing from the lectern. These days, it’s probably all computerized. I probably wouldn’t recognize a college classroom today.

  2. My daughter went to CU. Out of state tuition is horrendous ( Many CA students go there and they pay it gladly.) We reviewed many schools and CU , who trains astronauts, astronomers, and a strong microbiology dept offered the best education in a research setting with opportunities for students to work in labs on major scientific studies. Not to mention the multiple Nobel Prize winners who actually teach and talk with students. Small classes and profs who email students and are easy/willing to be contacted. It was not easy – others were more affordable – but bottom line is where can you learn what you need to learn. (and ski)
    Of course, kids can go to any school and learn nothing and come out with a useless degree and many at CU do that – it’s their choice. You get out what you put in.
    How to pay. Here’s how we did it. Maybe it will help someone
    1. Work hard in high school to get good grades. 2. Get online and research, locate all scholarships available and send all forms in on time and neatly, completely done. 3. Visit the campus several time. Talk face to face with financial aid, dept heads, administration. Let them see you are serious and worth their risk/money 4. Apply to school/send financial aid forms in early ( we learned the ones who are first in line, get the money..when they say send on Jan 1 – hit that computer right after midnight…not kidding) 5. Phone school/financial aid contact every so often – so they do know you and know you are interested. (We found out there’s a bulletin board at CU where they post very small donated scholarship money that is often not listed in the regular financial aid scholarship list because it’s not very much or there are special requirements ( like a “girl majoring in biology from a certain state” in memory of a deceased daughter….people started letting us know what turned up and how to apply). 6. Any successful friends who went there that is willing to write a letter of recommendation to school administrator saying you are a good hard worker who deserves a break – it all helps when it comes down between 2 kids up for a major scholarship – the one they know/have the most information about wins. 7. Student should be doing some charity work related to the field they are interested in (Like Candy Striper for biology/premed), 8. student should have a summer job that shows responsibility and initiative….life guarding at local pool is good – you can start at 15yrs here – shows willingness to work for what they want: college. 9. Take AP courses/exams in high school, 10. Take entry level/ some required courses during summers at community college or by correspondence from Texas Tech or school that has credits that will transfer (English, health, maybe history depends on degree plan – discuss with destination university), 11. Student must show how they bring something great to the university – how they will be an asset – and how the university can point to them after graduation as a success story. 12. The student needs to show they have the drive and are leading the campaign – not parents doing the push/work for them. Helicopter parents not needed
    Most of all: talk talk talk with contacts at the university.
    We are so grateful for all the help CU gave our daughter – and the scholarships that were found each year. She was dedicated and worked hard doing all the extra work to earn those. It still wasn’t cheap – but about what we would have paid for in-state tuition here. A much better experience at CU. No regrets for any of the sacrifices – and we will get the remaining loans paid off.
    It all depends on what you want, how bad you want it, and your willingness to work hard. (I’ve helped neighbors with this same plan for their kids – it can be done – but it takes dedication and lots of work)
    Go CU (even if there are those recent stupid suggestions about avoiding rape…urinating on yourself? looking pitiful? begging? Yeah, let’s empower the rapist more …but that for another post if I ever stop screaming about that)

    • Sounds like college prep and the race for admission hasn’t changed much. Only now, even if you manage to gain admission to the college of your choice, paying for it is going to be a huge hurdle for most people. How does anyone keep up with tuition hikes of 8-9% a year? Part of what students are having to pay for is fancy new buildings, football stadiums, etc. Physical frills to attract students but that have nothing to do with actually conferring an education (teachers and classrooms). Of course, CU is already one of the most beautiful campuses in the country, set in an area of limitless possibilities for the outdoor and sports-minded. I doubt they have to work very hard to attract applicants.

      In any case it will be interesting to see how the grandkids develop, what their primary interests will be, where they’ll want to go to school, etc.

      • Parents now simply can’t save fast enough. And the competition for scholarships is fierce. I think the college course /teaching may morph due to expense – many of the big name colleges are setting up on-line/distant learning courses – so we’ll see where that goes.
        Sadly computer classes / community college as freshmen year means the kid misses the 1st year college experience living on campus – which has many lessons to teach outside the books and classroom – participating in everything there.
        CU is pretty much the “perfect” campus.
        A lot of CO kids there really resent the out of state kids – there was a lot of concern in the CO legislature at that time about capping the out of state enrollment so more CO kids could get a chance…but he school likes the extra tuition money (especially from foreign students who pay a lot). At that time the legislature set a limit on campus size. (You really don’t want a school to get too big – like UT – that’s when you started getting bad teaching).
        And you are right about some things are not necessary for college. Fortunately CU has lots of people willing to donate money to them for some of it. (That’s quite a stadium, but apparently even a losing football team means big bucks. Havent’ seen the new student building, but it’s supposed to be impressive, too) That wonderful biology building is a marvel – CU was the only school with those expensive microbiology microscopes at that time.
        Universities all over are envious of how much money CU gets from results of their research efforts and discoveries. Very smart way to fund the school.
        But for a kid not interested in science? Maybe not the best choice. Too much to distract/fun – lots of courses that are fun but not practical
        Although we were thrilled CU offered the 4yr Graduation Guarantee: if the kid follows the set degree plan, and passes everything – and doesn’t have enough credits to graduate due to the university not offering necessary courses or labs, CU will pay the entire bill until kid graduates…all the state schools here like UT tell parents it will take 5 years because there are so many kids they can’t off all the courses needed all the time. That extra year adds too much to the already high cost.
        You are right. There’s got to be a change.
        So many kids are unprepared by high schools and have to retake failed college courses which adds even more costs. And so many drop out before the first year is over – I know the schools want all the kids they can get for the money, but it’s not right to set kids up for failure – and have them pile up debts

        • I couldn’t agree more about the on-campus experience. You can get an education online or as a commuter or part-time student, but you don’t get the full, immersive college experience if you aren’t living on or near campus, being there all day every day, in the dorms, student union, and classrooms. Getting the social (life!) experience as well as the few hours a day in class. I’m not describing it very well but you know what I mean.

          One reason I left CU after a year was realizing that journalism was my real interest. CU didn’t even have a journalism dept. at the time, so I went back to OU, where they had a full School of Journalism. A liberal arts vs. sciences decision. (I almost changed everything over one insanely fascinating archeology class I happened to take to fulfill some freshman science requirement … )

"Opinion is the medium between knowledge and ignorance." ~ Plato

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