The cost of college

Student loans pile up

There’s an old saying that goes something like “The cost of living’s high.” Then, it is usually followed up with reasons such as “inflation” or “that’s just the way things are.” For college students across America, investing in their education through a college degree gives them a greater chance to manage the cost that life brings.

In recent years, students have been faced with a rising cost of education rates across America. The Associated Press reported on Oct. 26 that the average tuition for a full-time student is near $8,000. With room and board, in-state cost reaches $17,000 a year.

According to the Executive Director of Financial Aid, Dr. Robert Ritz, Liberty’s tuition fares well against other institutions.

“While some schools are increasing tuition costs by double digit percentages, Liberty continues to stand by low costs for a private education,” Ritz said.

The total cost for a year of undergraduate studies including all fees and housing comes to an approximate cost of $25,834, according Liberty’s website. With scholarships, grants and federal loans, the cost is significantly less for most students. Still, tuition has risen across the country, and graduates will be forced to face their debt soon after graduation.

In an interview with the Associated Press, President of the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education Patrick Callan explained the rise in cost.

“The states cut budgets, the price goes up and the (federal) money goes to that,” Callan said. “For 25 years we’ve been putting more and more money into financial aid, and tuition keeps going up. We’re on a national treadmill.”

Ritz explained that as a private university, Liberty is not impacted directly like other universities are by budget cuts.

“Most of the state budget cuts do not affect Liberty University aside from the Virginia Tuition Assistance Grant, because Liberty is a private school,” he said.

President Obama has tried to compensate for the growing problem of excessive student debt due to the growing cost of college tuition. Recently, he announced plans in which the maximum repayment amount will be capped at 10 percent of discretionary incomes for federal student loans. The policy was not set to begin until 2014, but the President has said that it will now begin in 2012. President Obama also plans to reduce the time in which students are forced to pay off their student loans to 20 years. Currently, the amount of time until a loan will be forgiven is 25 years.

To support its students, the financial aid office at Liberty offers students financial aid advisors to personally look over their costs. Ritz noted the ways in which students can receive aid.

“Liberty institutional scholarships are notably generous with the Champion (scholarship) increasing annually with enrollment,” he said. “Not only does Liberty offer institutional aid, we also process federal grants, loans, and state grants for students.”

In October, staff members from financial aid visited the Reber-Thomas Dining Hall in what was called “Financial Aid 2 Go.” Students had easy access to get questions answered without having to visit the Financial Aid office in Green Hall. Another “Financial Aid 2 Go” is planned for the spring semester. For more information on how to manage your college debt, go to

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