Now's the time parents and students are thinking about how to pay for college next year.
College Goal Sunday, a nationwide effort that provides help in filling out the required financial aid forms, took place last weekend. Area parents and their graduating high school seniors can see how the cost of college tuition is climbing -- especially at four-year colleges and universities.
The National Center for Education Statistics reports that in 2004, the latest year for which statistics are available, the average cost of in-state tuition at an Indiana public university was $5,666 per academic year. The cost in Michigan was $6,189.
Tuition generally increases at about twice the rate of inflation annually, according to www.finaid.org, a Web site with information on financial aid. In fact, the average increase is about 8 percent per year and it's no different in Indiana. "For a baby born today, this means that college costs will be more than three times the current rates ...," the Web site said.
That's scary if you are a parent trying to save for a child's education.
Today, Goshen College officials are giving its students a "Tuition Free Day." The aim of the second annual celebration, sponsored by the development office, is to raise awareness among GC students about how much they are actually paying for.
According to information provided by GC, tuition covers about 66 percent of the actual cost of a one-year education at the private college. "Tuition Free Day" is symbolic of the time when two-thirds through the school year, someone else starts paying for a GC student's education.
Where does the rest of the tuition money come from? More than $3.2 million was donated to Goshen College in 2005-06 by more than 4,200 people, businesses and organizations.
Almost all of GC's students -- 99 percent -- receive some sort of financial aid, averaging about $16,700. The cost of next year's tuition will be $22,300.
Another goal of today's celebration is to encourage students to give back to Goshen College as alumni. It's also to celebrate all of the people who give financial support to the college.
That commitment to education is something to congratulate at colleges and universities all over the state of Indiana.
But it doesn't solve the crisis many families face as they try to figure out how to make college more affordable. Average students from middle-income families aren't usually able to get financial aid at state universities, so many are carrying a heavy debt load once they complete their education -- if they can afford to go for four years.
State officials need to take a leadership role in finding an answer to making college more attainable and affordable in Indiana.