Column: My college fairy tale


I recently attended the annual dinner of the Independent Colleges of Indiana. This organization is the voice for the 30 private colleges scattered throughout Indiana. The largest is Notre Dame. Those in our area are Butler University, Marian University, University of Indianapolis, Martin University, Franklin College and Anderson College.

The difference in private and public colleges is that public colleges are supported by public money – state government and taxpayers. Private colleges receive no public money, relying on tuition, fees and private funding sources.

How does that affect the customer (students)? Although there is often a big “sticker” price, the net price calculated for an individual student may be low enough to be doable. Private colleges use state grants, federal Pell Grants and institutional aid (scholarships) to reduce the cost for students.

The market for college students is much deeper as older adults either begin a degree or add a degree. My 29-year-old granddaughter is beginning a second master’s degree and also works full time. Personal contact with the college or university admissions officer is important as choices are evaluated for time and money that will be required.

Our two-year colleges in Indiana – Ivy Tech and Vincennes University – are a great option for low-income or older students, but they also are a foundation for reducing the total four-year cost since they are public universities and the credits are easily transferred to four-year colleges.

It troubles me when young students just graduating from high school aren’t properly advised about the costs of college loans. One recent college graduate told me that he had acquired more than $100,000 in student debt for his business degree. When students are borrowing the total amount for their degree, they need to look at every option for reducing their total cost.

Even though we are told over and over again that college graduates earn more than $1 million more than high school graduates during their careers, we must remember that beginning a college-based career with a huge debt hanging over your head will decrease your quality of life – such as the inability to buy a home, car or delaying marriage – in the short run.

I am happy that I have a college degree, and I highly recommend that they be pursued. I’m also happy that I had no college debt because “in the olden days” (I graduated from Purdue in 1956) a four-year degree could be obtained for less than $10,000. My grandchildren call these fairy tales from an aging elder!


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