Student sells soul to afford tuition

I knew when I received my acceptance letter and chose APU that I was going to have to get crafty if I was going to be able to afford its tuition. As prices continue to rise, I’ve found an alternative never before pursued by an APU student: I’ve sold my soul.

Lately, my friends have commented on how I’ve become a bit more bland, lacking personality and going through the motions of life, and they’re right. I sold my soul to cover tuition, but the good news is, your soul can’t be crushed by APU’s new tuition price if you don’t have one. Better yet, I now have the money to cover that soul-crushing tuition. It just took giving up my personal beliefs, identity and sense of purpose.

Buzz regarding the increase in next year’s tuition has been heard all around campus and most students – especially those paying for their own college experience – are not happy.

We at APU are being faced with a tuition hike and if you are reading this, it is likely that you are a current student who won’t be offered a higher scholarship opportunity.

Currently, the highest academic scholarship that incoming students can be offered is $10,000, which will be the lowest academic scholarship available to new students next fall.

OK, fair enough, the scholarship is inflating to match the inflated tuition. That’s nice, but what about students who will pay the higher tuition without an opportunity at a better scholarship?

APU’s very own Capture addressed this in an interview with President Jon Wallace, Vice President David Bixby and Chief Financial Officer Bob Johansen.

“Every dollar given to the university … is stewarded to the best we can,” Wallace said. “We spend money that belongs to God for the benefit of Christian higher education. We work for that day when the costs don’t go up but they go down.”

Capture also found that “the average percent each academic scholarship offered to incoming students next year increased 49 percent from the current year.”

While many students are unhappy about this change, senior business major Aaron Bubert points out that it is nice to receive any financial help from the university.

“APU gave me $5,000 each year and I consider this a great gift,” Bubert said. “I am not entitled to APU’s money. Now, of course, money is an issue, but I am not convinced the burden should lie on APU to solve or relieve that issue. …The financial problem is a much broader issue that transcends the APU administration.”

Bubert also added that “the amount of debt many of us have accumulated cannot be sustained. Whether or not the government relieves our loans, someone will have to pay.”

APU isn’t the only university with rising tuition. In California, both California State and University of California campuses are facing tuition hikes and students at these other institutions are just as disappointed.

“The most frustrating thing about the potential tuition hikes, for me, is that the administrators and those at the top of the system keep getting raises and better benefits, while students’ needs are continually pushed to the wayside,” said Ellen Spicer, a student at University of California San Diego, which is set to raise its tuition 5.5 percent each year for the next five years.

Spicer continued: “The system is stacked and students are being used as pawns in the chess game between the UC regents and the state. I think that in the long run, higher tuition will edge everyday Californians out of [the] education they deserve and are frankly entitled to.”

This reflects the trend of increasing tuition costs nationwide and the increasing debt from student loans. In fact, the total student loan debt in America has surpassed the trillion-dollar mark.

Scary amounts of debt should not be taken lightly and students should plan wisely and prepare for how they will tackle their debt after graduation. Or, you can make like me, sell your soul and get on with it. It’s an exaggeration, but sometimes drastic measures often feel like the only accurate response to an equally drastic amount of debt.

For Azusa Pacific, tuition wasn’t the only cost to rise. According to the initial email from Wallace, the rise in housing and food costs together is at 2 percent. This increase will be especially difficult for students who don’t see living off-campus and commuting from home as feasible options.

The current price of on-campus housing is one of the reasons I along with numerous other students are seeking off-campus living, which, with enough roommates, may be significantly cheaper and better quality.

Senior English major Mike Tomkiewicz lives off-campus with seven other male students and can attest to these benefits.

“It’s much cheaper to live off-campus than on, if you know where to look,” said Tomkiewicz. “My sister lives in University Park and I believe she pays about two to two and a half times what I pay per month, which is $219. … Being able to pay significantly less for the same type of living arrangement is the biggest factor. The only con is that we live slightly further away from campus.”

Next year’s housing cost is $4,522. However, this year my roommates and I will have each paid $2,520 for the entire duration of the academic year in rent off campus, proving that this option is financially reasonable for the location and luxury of our Rosedale townhouse.

Even with utilities, groceries and other payments, it is over $1,000 cheaper off-campus. The money saved can be used toward tuition, among other things. For many, this also means smaller loans.

The rising tuition is definitely disappointing and reminds us of the looming debt many of as are accruing. When it comes down to it, education reform is going to have to happen in our lifetimes for higher education to remain sustainable and affordable. Otherwise, you can say goodbye to either your soul or your education.

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