Money, money, money!

November 29, 2007
By Gabriella S, New York, NY

College equals money. This is a common association for High School students and their parents when choosing which colleges to attend. When you think of the cost of college some key words might appear in your mind: tuition, dorm, food etc. However, do you ever think about how much it costs to take the SATs? What about the mandatory fee of sending in your SAT scores to each college you apply to; or even the fact that you need to pay the college to be able to apply? No, these thoughts don’t normally cross your mind when thinking about college; simply because all those costs take place before you even get accepted to a college! As time goes by, the process of applying to colleges gets more and more expensive. Will we soon be back in a society where only the rich and powerful get to have the privilege of education? That’s sure how it seems. Applying to college needs to become less expensive and more attainable, so that more students can get the education they need.

It’s ridiculous how much money is expected to be spent on college when you’re still in High School. According to Alvin P. Sanoff (Costs begin before college), “The cost of applying to and choosing a college can range from several hundred to several thousand dollars depending on the decisions students and parents make.” Yes, some families get financial aid and grants to help them along in the process. What happens to the families who don’t fall in the applicable range for financial aid, yet still don’t acquire the finances to spend so much money on the college process? For example, families who fall in the $35,000-$60,000 annual income range (ibid). They do not qualify for financial aid meaning they must pay the full amount, yet they are “middle class” therefore still not able to pay all the different costs. The College Board states that taking the SAT’s cost $43.00 (up from $21.00 in March after the writing portion was added). The ACTs are the same amount. Subject tests are $20.00 to register and $8.00 per test. Advanced placement tests cost $82.00 – tests commonly taken because of the advantages they have when applying for colleges. The college application fee alone can range from $50-$75 per school. Then there are late fees, registration fees, and so on. All these tests are important and necessary in helping a student get into the college of his/her choice. As a result, the system basically states that a student must spend this money in order to even consider going to college; it is not an option. Let’s assume a kid might want to apply to five or six schools, strive to take the SAT’s twice, then send their SAT scores to colleges, take extra subject tests and AP tests to help them stand out from the million of other kids also applying. A “hypothetical student’s” cost of applying to college can add up to $800 for any middle class average family. Remember, this is on top of tuition, dorm, food and all the other expenses you must pay once you get accepted into college. Is this fair? I think not.

It’s not fair because while our country has implanted the idea into society that education is more important than anything else in life, and you can not be successful with out a full education, it is made so difficult to achieve. So many young kids strive to live a life of happiness and success when they’re older, but are often discouraged because they know that their financial status will never allow them to get the proper education to compete against all the kids who are able to pay thousands of dollars on SAT prep classes and apply to 8 different schools. It sets a barrier between the rich and poor kids, making the kids without all the privileges feel less than worthy of attending the same colleges as the privileged. Why stress the importance of hard work and education, when the college system makes attaining this education nearly impossible for lower and middle income families? The wealthy and the powerful families are the only ones who this system works for. In a democratic country, where everyone should be considered equal and “no child is left behind”, this shouldn’t be the case.

Consequently, this education system should be changed. It should not be so difficult and costly to apply to colleges. Colleges must stop worrying about getting money and put the education of the children first. If more children could afford to apply to school, more would end up going to college, and then go on to acquiring a successful career. Isn’t that a better choice than people giving up on the idea of college purely because schools are trying to take everyone’s money? If this system doesn’t change soon, only the upper class will be able to attend college, putting our nation right back to where it was decades ago. A change must occur in the application process. The cost should be minimized and financial aid easier to obtain; this way our youth can aspire to go to college and onto become the powerful men and women of the future. Cutting the cost of college applications is a truly beneficial proposal.

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