Uncovering the Rising Cost of Higher Education

November 5, 2019

The recent presidential debates have raised college affordability and fast growing student debt to the forefront of the national conversation. These debates focus on the rising cost of tuition and fees. However, students are also facing increasing out-of-pocket expenses.

According to the Indicators of Higher Education Equity in the United States: 2017 Trend Report, dependent full-time undergraduates from low-income families averaged more than $8,000 in unmet financial need. These costs can throw off a student’s budget and even deter their ability to enroll in classes.

What are these out-of-pocket expenses? They can range from required course materials such as books and graph calculators to lab fees. The Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, reports prices for college textbooks increased 88% from January 2006 to July 2016.

A fairly new financial burden is the one-time use access code or password used for educational materials. If a student can’t afford the code, not only do they forgo access to an online textbook but they are unable to complete online tests or homework assignments. This financial expense could have a detrimental effect on their final course grade. There are also mandatory fees that are specific to the college or university such as orientation fees, technology fees, career services fees, mental health fees, and athletic fees.

Capital Partners for Education (CPE) understands how these costs can add up and become a barrier to college success, especially for low-income, first-generation students. To help students offset these burdensome school-related expenses, CPE has an Emergency Fund (mini-grants) for students in the program. This fiscal year, more than half of the fund requests were for books, digital resources, and technology.

For Betsey Mendoza Bonilla, a CPE college student majoring in biology, the emergency fund helped her purchase the required textbooks for her major. She had to stop working because she couldn’t find a job that would accommodate her school schedule. She is the first in her family to attend college and has expressed how the CPE emergency fund helped her continue her higher education studies. Betsey stated that without the help of the CPE emergency fund, she would have dropped out of school to work full time.

Only 56% of low-income high school graduates enroll in college, compared to 91% of their high-income peers. In order to help put them on a path of upward economic mobility, CPE helps to remove barriers to success such as the inability to afford the numerous expenses necessary to earn a college degree.

Students aren’t able to thrive academically if their basic needs aren’t met. Last year on #GivingTuesday, CPE raised $14,276 for its emergency fund. Help us exceed that amount by supporting CPE students with financial assistance for a variety of items their scholarships and financial aid don’t cover. We invite you to celebrate #GivingTuesday with CPE by donating toward a cause that will help CPE students continue on their path to success.