In my email queue this morning was the current e-newsletter from my alma mater, Northwestern. In it was this little bit:
Undergraduate tuition at Northwestern will increase 4.3 percent to $43,380 for the 2012-2013 academic year from the current year’s $41,592. Room and board also will increase 4.3 percent.Ouch.
Now realize that (a) NU is the only private university in the twelve schools of the Big Ten, (b) that college tuition rates have been rising above the rate of inflation for the last couple of decades and (c) I knew that the tuition rate was high. Still, I hadn't actually paid any attention to the numbers in quite some time.
When I Was A Lad... (Shakes Fist At Kids On His Lawn)
In September of 1976, tuition and room and board exceeded $6000 at Northwestern for the first time -- and that was greeted with howls of protests from the students and complaints from the parents. Now mind, that then as now, very few Northwestern students paid the full bore tuition and room & board out of pocket. Most of us were on some sort of scholarships or loans.
My folks normally bought a new Chevy every four years, so 1976 would've been a new car year. Instead, our 1972 Chevy Malibu soldiered on until it was replaced by one of the first 1981 Chevrolet Cavaliers. You could say that my college was our new car, except that I ended up with a 1979 Chevy Suburban in my senior year, so you could say I lucked out big time.
Part of this was helped out by the fact that my PSAT scores qualified me for a National Merit Scholarship -- and my father's employer CIBA-Geigy actually had corporate National Merit Scholarships available for some dependents, so I earned the max amount of $1500 for four years. A lot of National Merit Finalists end up getting the equivalent of a hearty handshake for their efforts, so this was nice. Both myself and Mrs. Dr. Phil managed to get through college and graduate schools with minimal student loan burdens -- which we have long ago paid off in full.
Still, the economics of books and expenses and travel and the cost of going to school were all so very different in those days of the seemingly innocent Ford and Carter Administrations. So raise a glass in salute of all students, public or private, who are battling the dark forces of financial ruin in order to further their education.