Tonawanda News

Local News

August 22, 2013

College costs are on the rise

Tonawanda News — The cost of a college diploma just keeps climbing.

With President Obama planning to speak in Buffalo today about reducing the costs and improving the value of higher education for American middle-class students and their families, a look at local colleges and universities shows that those costs have indeed been on the rise.

Meanwhile, U.S. Census Bureau data indicate that the real median household income actually fell between 2010 and 2011 (from $51,144 to $50,502, according to American Community Survey data).

Christine McGinniss, a Town of Tonawanda mother with a college-aged son, said that while she expected costs to have increased, she was surprised at what she found when initially looking at college tuition for her son, Rob Karker, who is now enrolled in the engineering and science program at Erie Community College.

“I was extremely overwhelmed at what I thought tuition would be and what it actually is,” she said. “It’s extremely expensive.”

While they had saved for college, McGinniss said, it wasn’t enough to make it to a four-year degree without a good deal of debt, even with other schools offering scholarships. They chose the community college to stretch the money further. Karker, a graduate of Kenmore East, plans to eventually transfer to UB or the Rochester Institute of Technology to earn a biomedical engineering degree.

“We needed the money to go as far as possible,” McGinniss said. “We figured if he went to ECC, we thought we might be able to get away without all the student loans.”

The president has been turning an eye lately to issues of college cost and debt. According to The New York Times, in an email to supporters Tuesday, Obama mentioned that the average tuition at four-year colleges has tripled over the past three decades, and students who take out loans are left, on average, with $26,000 in debt — issues he is expected to address today in a speech at the University at Buffalo

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