Abby Yu (’23) shares her perspective on college tuition

March 29, 2023


Courtesy of

Student aid offer letters, like this example, often provide financial breakdowns of tuition when provided with aid.

In today’s world, there seems to be a conventional way of living: work hard in school, go to college and work for the rest of your life until you ultimately face the end. Pretty boring if you ask me. But if an individual decides to divert from that conventional path, they face discouragement and little support.
Although college is deemed necessary for success, the burden for paying for college often digs students into a deep financial hole. College tuition is a component of the application process that is dreaded by many, as some schools even charge up to nearly $80,000 per year. To put that in perspective, if you attend said college for 4 years, that is $320,000. That amount of money is also equivalent to a 6 bedroom house in Detroit, 32,000 burritos (assuming a burrito is ten dollars), 1,200 engagement rings and the list continues. Not only is the college application process itself stressful, but the thought and logistics of financial situations is another factor added to the mix.
As a senior in high school and the oldest child in my family, the whole process of applying for college was incredibly stressful and resulted in a tear or two shed. With Commitment Day steadily approaching, I’ve been able to narrow down my top schools down to The College of New Jersey (TCNJ) and Saint Joseph’s University. I plan on majoring in Early Childhood Education and utilizing both schools’ five year Masters and Bachelors program or their 4+1 program. I am lucky enough to say that I received a good amount of merit scholarships from both schools, but Saint Joseph’s offered me nearly $40,000 in merit scholarship a year while TCNJ offered me around $7,000. While this does alleviate the financial stress a little bit, there is one problem. My fifth year is not covered by any of these merit-based scholarships. The price tag attached to attending TCNJ is a fair price for the type of school and prestige that it holds around the nation standing at around $30,000. Saint Joe’s, on the other hand, would charge around $70,000 dollars for that one extra year. Of course I could seek my academic counselor and teachers to ask for scholarship opportunities, but still that is an incredible amount of money. And with me leaning towards Saint Joe’s as my top choice, it will definitely be a number that looms over my head for the first four years of my college experience. For those first four years, I would be paying around $20,000 in order to attend either school.
I know I am not the only one terrified by the several zeros attached to that tuition price. I am thankful that my parents are helping me pay for my education (possibly in full). I have a supportive family that will allow me to attend any college that I wish to attend. Through high school, it was really my senior year that taught me that the college you attend does not matter in the long run. While Saint Joe’s is on the pricier side, they are known for offering more aid and merit money. I would like to consider myself a well achieving student who is involved in the East community and has been a part of Cum Laude for the past two years. I could’ve had my heart set on a top university. However, I decided to keep my options open and choose the smarter route financially. If you think about it, prospective college students and current college students are all working towards the same degree just with a different college name slapped on it. So my one piece of advice to those who are about to start the college application process: do not spend an insane amount of money on your undergraduate degree, especially if you decide to purse a graduate degree. You can find a great education at an in-state school like Rutgers, TCNJ or Montclair for half or even more than half of the price of an Ivy League or other prestigious college. I am beyond proud of those who have gotten into those schools and want to make it clear that I am not criticizing their choice at all. It is a commendable accomplishment, but I like to see college as an opportunity to further my education and in doing so pay the smallest amount of money I can.

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