Writing Contest: Runner-Up

Paying for a Future

Clay Sullivan, Larry A. Ryle High School, Union, KY (Teacher: Ms. Sarah Meece)

As graduation approaches, the most important decision of my life looms overhead. Post-graduation plans are an integral element of success for everyone, and a four-year degree is the path I have chosen to travel. After sifting through countless letters, my school choices narrowed to five and the application process began. One may think that finding the perfect school is the end of the college process, but after the acceptance-letter elation, the pressure of the financial burden soon dampens the situation.

Xavier University is a well-respected institution that boasts a top-tier education and top-tier individuals. The school is situated in Cincinnati, just beyond bustling downtown but isolated enough to make the 6,000-student campus feel small and “homey.” Tradition and pride radiate through the campus; I know that is the type of school I want to attend. All the benefits of being a Xavier student come with a price, though—a big one. With tuition standing at $25,270 and room and board expenses sitting right at $9,000, a Xavier education poses many financial problems at approximately $34,000 per year. According to finaid.org, tuition increases at about twice the inflation rate. Over the last 20 years, college tuition increased an average of 8% per year and doubled every nine years. Based on my own calculations, Xavier would cost about $46,000 my senior year of college, assuming room and board increases proportionately with tuition. I have been offered a $12,000 scholarship to attend Xavier, but clearly, in four years this amount will be worth far less than it is right now. The biggest problem posed by college for me is not where to go or what to major in, but rather how to pay for it and finding the funding necessary to reach my goals.

Ever since I was little, I’ve been told, “Money doesn’t buy happiness.” This is true, but the potential income of certain occupations definitely plays a role in determining what one wants to do with one’s life. Xavier offers a five-year, MBA program in accounting. Ranked eighth nationwide in graduate business studies, Xavier’s MBA would be most beneficial. Xavier graduates have a 95% placement rate in either a job or graduate school, just three months after graduation. The median salary for financial analysts, accountants, and finance managers is $66,000, according to acinet.org. An MBA in accounting is basically an open to for many jobs pertaining to finance, not just accounting. A master’s degree from one of America’s top institutions, along with some hard work and dedication, could yield salaries well over $100,000 in many occupations. My personal finance goals are simple: to make enough money so that I can live comfortably. I don’t want constant worry about paying bills or getting through the next few weeks; I want stability. A Xavier education would cost roughly $140,000 for four undergraduate years and one year of master’s study, but this price would give me the opportunity to make around $100,000 in the years following graduation. There are many things I enjoy and have an interest in, but the MBA program at Xavier gives me the opportunity to make the money I want while doing something I enjoy.

College is expensive. The education one needs to succeed is extremely valuable and, just as with other products, the cost of the school increases with the quality of the education. I have found where I want to go and where I want to spend the next four to five years of my life, but I need to meet the financial obligations to achieve my goals. The financial aspect of college is one that I want to put aside so that I can enjoy the college experience, focus my attention on post-graduation plans, and not spend hours worrying rather than learning.