By: Jules Galway (Loyola)
ROGERS PARK – As college costs around the United States are skyrocketing, students are working multiple jobs to receive an education as their stress rises. At Loyola University Chicago, tuition has been announced to increase past the $50,000 mark for the 2023-2024 academic year, causing many working-students to face uncertainty over their future at Loyola.
Loyola itself has a reputation for attracting students of a wealthier financial status due to their higher than average sticker-price, but has a large population of students who are able to attend due to receiving need-based financial aid and merit-based scholarships.
In most of these cases, the students’ financial aid packages, whether from outside sources or Loyola directly, do not increase along with tuition and students are left to come up with these funds within a few months of notice.
Some students at Loyola pay entirely for their own schooling and say that their financial aid is just not cutting it when compared to the rising costs of college. One such student, Derek Anderson (20), explained that because of his family’s background, he’s responsible for all of his college costs and day-to-day expenditures.
“I’m a part of a lower middle class where FAFSA [Free Application for Federal Student Aid] recognizes that and gives me a lot of financial aid,” Anderson said. “But it’s just not enough, FAFSA is still not helping me to the extent that they probably could. Like, my loans are scary, I’m in a lot of debt and that’s not going to be fun to pay off.”
Apart from Federal Aid, many students have been unsatisfied with the amount Loyola gives to its lower-income students.
“I do think they should’ve given me more need-based grants since they can see my current financial situation and they know I financially support myself so more would be very helpful,” Anderson said. “But I don’t think they’ll ever give me any.”
Across the United States, students are taking on a significant financial burden. At private universities, the average student owes $40,750 while those who attend a public college owe $28,160 on average.
Due to this high cost of attendance and increasing prices, Anderson turned to working multiple jobs to ease the situation, but this has been taking a toll on his mental health.
Anderson, who works as a Desk Receptionist for San Francisco Hall and a tour guide for the campus, says, “Working two jobs in college makes it a lot harder to get work done. When I work and go to class, I don’t have much time to do homework or even hang out with friends and it really affects my mood and motivation.”
American students with loans have reported increases in stress and mental health issues due to their loans. In an ELVTR report, it was discovered that 54% of Americans have experienced mental health issues regarding their student loans. Because of Loyola’s high price, people can anticipate a similar response in graduates and current students.
Anderson, a Pell Grant recipient, said he was unsatisfied with the level of need-based aid Loyola gives him.
“They should’ve given me more need-based grants since they can see my current financial situation and they know I financially support myself so more would be very helpful,” Anderson said. “But I don’t think they’ll ever give me any.”
Similarly, the uncertainty over tuition costs has caused students to wonder whether they can continue pursuing an education at Loyola. Makayla Mouraview (20), a Loyola sophomore who works two jobs at a local animal shelter called Felines and Canines and an Under Armour store in Chicago, expressed her concerns over the rising cost of attendance.
“I’m getting so nervous and feeling like I’m not sure if I can continue going here.” Mouraview said.
On Feb. 20, 2023, only a day before students started registering for housing, Loyola told its junior and senior class that securing an on-campus dorm may be more difficult as anticipated, as recently, there was an unanticipated historic freshman enrollment numbers that have caused a housing issue.
In an email to rising Juniors and Seniors, Loyola Residence Life Department officials said, “We will be monitoring the Junior/Senior Room Selection process and will halt the process for all participants when we have reached the Junior/Senior capacity. At that point we will verify that no additional spaces remain for Juniors/Seniors and will implement the Deferred Housing Process.”
This has caused many students, like Mouraview, to get apartments instead of risking the deferred housing process. Though for Mouraview, who plans to use private student loans for housing, this has proven to be difficult to achieve.
“I use Discover Student Loans and how it works is they will pay the institution three weeks after you’re enrolled in classes,” Mouraview said. “So, for example, since I want to live in Chicago during the summer [and next year], I have to get a loan to pay for rent through this, but I won’t get that money until September because I’m not enrolled in at least two summer classes, but I just can’t afford an additional $6,000 for classes.”
For both Mouraview and Anderson, working two jobs while attending school full-time is not an option – it’s a requirement. And this requirement doesn’t seem to be going anyway for future students anytime soon.
While some may say that students should simply choose a cheaper school, the answer isn’t always that crystal clear. The unfortunate truth of the situation is that no matter what college a student chooses to attend, these issues with costs will continue to follow them.
According to a U.S. News & World Report analysis, tuition has increased over the past 20 years for public universities by 171% for out-of-state students and 211% for public, in-state students. Private schools on the other hand have increased by 144%. These staggering numbers are daunting, especially for students of lower-income households who are trying to receive a higher education to ideally set themselves up for success in life.
In Chicago, consumer prices are up by 4.4% from a year ago according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, which could potentially cause prospective students to deter from enrolling schools in Chicago and other urban areas. These price increases at Loyola have made people wonder about the future of Loyola’s applicant pool as well.
“The more expensive your school is, the less people are gonna go and the more expensive you’re gonna have to make it.” Mouraview said.
Students everywhere have been calling upon universities to cut tuition costs, and Loyola is no exception. At Loyola, 99% of first-year students received some financial assistance, and the university reported the average financial aid package for a first-year was $29,800.
According to a 2022 New York Times article, a private institution called Colby-Sawyer College in New Hampshire decreased its tuition by more than half to reflect the fact that very few pay list price, and they’re not the only ones joining in on cutting the costs of tuition.
With Loyola having 99% of its first-year students not paying the full price of attendance, it’s worth asking the question; why hasn’t Loyola jumped to lower tuition as well to reflect this reality?