Frankson: The high price of college life is unrecognized by universities

AJ Frankson

Editor’s Note: All opinion section content reflects the views of the individual author only and does not represent a stance taken by the Collegian or its editorial board.

Ramen for every meal, thrift shopping for clothes, and buying expensive textbooks are all staples of what it means to be in college. It’s common knowledge that college students are broke, and frankly, will probably be broke until their late twenties. Many organizations treat college students unfairly, including Colorado State University.


CSU likes to claim that they are student-friendly, boasting about how no tuition money was used to build the new stadium. However, the university drains every cent out of their students, despite us being the only reason that the school even exists to begin with. Colleges need to start recognizing that the price of life for students is way too high, and it’s not completely avoidable.

CSU’s average cost of in-state tuition might not seem like an impossible number, but when you add in the cost of fees such as books, school supplies, orientation and freshman fees, parking permits, senior and commencement fees, and more, one year of school costs nearly twice of what the average student makes a year, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. For out of state students, that number is four times what a student makes.

A university as large as CSU needs a lot of revenue to ensure that it can keep functioning. It has gotten to the point where the university is charging way too much. According to CNN, in 1980, college tuition was about $2,390 a year, while the minimum wage was $3.10. That doesn’t seem like much, but if you translate it into 2017 dollars, college tuition was only about $7,100, while minimum wage was $9.21. That means that the cost to go to college has tripled, along with student fees, while minimum wage has stayed pretty much the same.

Universities like to claim that the reason for high tuition is that public funding for universities has been cut, and students now have to pay the difference. Paul Campos, New York Times columnist, argues that this is completely untrue, saying that in fact, public investment is vastly higher today than it was 30 years ago.

Universities need to recognize that we are not financially stable and we cannot pay for all of these outrageous expenses. At CSU, this issue is manifested in our hectic parking plan. Whether or not you are paying for your college or not, it is ridiculous to have to pay up to $700 for a parking pass that doesn’t even guarantee a spot, let alone allow students to park on campus on game days. Is it really necessary to charge such an excessive amount for parking when students already pay thousands of dollars for tuition alone? School costs so much and unnecessarily drives students’ costs of living through the roof.

In addition, textbook costs have also increased significantly. According to the National Association of College Stores, this is due to the textbook market being controlled by just five major publishers, giving them the opportunity to take advantage of students and drive up textbook costs without fearing competition.

And it’s all completely legal.

So here we are, full-time students with part-time jobs, living off of ramen noodles and depression naps, paying more money than we have for a piece of paper. We are slaves to greedy companies and universities who charge an arm and a leg for parking passes. We are being taken advantage of and drained of every cent, just because we can be. Colleges and companies know that we need that stupid piece of paper to get a job nowadays, and they exploit us because they can.

I might not know how exactly to fix this problem, but what I do know for certain that this is an immoral and unethical process, and needs to stop immediately. The University needs to come to an understanding that the cost of living is high enough for the average college student, and we need a break. 

AJ Frankson can be reached on twitter @aj_frankson or at