By Tinga Adiang

Applying to college can be really stressful, so when you get those acceptance letters you feel lucky. You feel as though somewhere wants you. So when I got accepted to St. Lawrence I was so excited, and luckily I got a huge financial package to go with it, money definitely tends to dictate decisions about colleges for most students.

So, I read through the financial terms, signed on, and started the first semester not paying very much. The second semester was the same. But then the next year there was a huge increase in my bill, and I thought that it must be a mistake. I called the financial aid office and asked if they had accidentally tacked on an extra “0” or two. But they said it was correct. Supposedly the board of trustees had agreed the year prior to increase tuition by 3.5%. I was like “what? why we’re the students not informed?” and I was in student government, so I was fairly connected to the administration.

The fact is that most schools especially those that private schools and even most state schools these days increase their tuition by around that margin. Each year student’s who are from minority backgrounds who have worked hard to get into a good school fail to realize that schools will initially give huge financial aid packages but that price doesn’t stay the same. Most of these students go to “failing” high schools and have parents that did not attend college and do not know anything about the system. Each year it is these students that get crushed by debt because by the time they realize what their loans actually look like, it is too late to transfer or do much about it. It is an endless cycle and students become trapped.

After that year, I decided to be more involved and understand the whole process, as a result, I ran for student body president, and I advocate for administration transparency, especially when it comes to tuition increases. These increases disproportionately impact minority students, and it’s not fair that when you sign on, what you pay your first year may not be what you’re going to pay for the rest of your time in college. I found myself in a situation that was unfair, and student loans disproportionately impact minorities. Unfortunately, schools will continue to raise their prices, and students will continue to fall for the initial scholarships that they receive. I believe there should be more transparency in aid packages and high schools need to better equip students as they enter into college.

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