College students in Idaho are looking at another year of tuition increases. College tuition in Idaho has increased every year since 2004 according to the Idaho State Board of Education.
If the State Board of Education signs off on the increase, full time students will be paying more to attend Boise State University, University of Idaho, Idaho State University, and Lewis-Clark State College.
Lewis-Clark State College has the lowest tuition increase at 2% to $5,900. While Boise State University has the highest at 6.1% bringing tuition up to $6,676 for full-time students. For BSU alone, this is a $2771 increase over the last 10 years.
A number of factors are contributing to the rise in tuition. Declining enrollment numbers is the primary cause. Also, the addition of needed classes, pay increases, internship programs, and increased health insurance costs all are playing a part in the increased tuition for these four schools.
Despite the increases, average tuition in Idaho for four-year schools is right in the middle of the pack for the 15 western states, according to the Western Interstate Commission on Higher Education. But with Idaho trailing behind the country in wages, it is no wonder that each year fewer and fewer students are enrolling.
If tuition continues to rise each year, I fear that we will continue to see a decline in enrollment. Higher education is slowly slipping just out of reach for many Idahoans. Sure, students can get student loans if they qualify, but for those students like myself that are trying desperately to stay out of debt, each increase makes it more and more difficult to continue an education.
I have found that, for my situation at least, it is much more affordable and realistic for me to take all of my core classes from a community college. Schools such as College of Southern Idaho and College of Western Idaho are able to provide students with 2-year programs that allow them to get their Associates Degree at a much lower cost. Graduates can then transfer their degree to one of the 4-year institutions to continue on their path to higher education.
While I do feel that education is important, I also believe that burying yourself in debt to achieve your desired degree can lead to more financial problems down the road. I urge students to plan ahead. Apply for financial aid, scholarships, and attend a 2-year school for the first few years in order to save yourself as much debt as possible.