Sloane Morrow is a junior, Elementary Education major.




At Buena Vista University (BVU), like colleges and universities across the nation, everybody has a story about how they pay for college. As higher education prices climb, students must find a way to pay. Colleges across the country have raised their tuition costs.


There is no question why college students graduate with debt. Just within the last 5 years, BVU’s tuition has increased from $26,306 to $30,406. That’s a difference of $4,100! From the 1971-72 school year to the 2014-15 school year, the national average for tuition, fees, room, and board at private nonprofit, four-year institutions has increased from $17,146 to $42,419, according to - an average increase of $443 over 57 years.


According to a report from Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, the nation as a whole has increased the average tuition cost by 29%, or $2,068, since the 2007-2008 school year. The coastal states have increased tuition the most within 2008 and 2015. Arizona has had the highest increase at 83.6%, followed by Hawaii (70%), Georgia (69.5%), Louisiana (67.2%), Florida (64.2%), and California (62.2%).


Each student has a different situation and a different college experience. Some students need to spend more than others, not only because of their financial situations, but because of their involvement in school as well. When you are a student athlete, you spend more on athletic apparel or families going to the students’ games. Other students, like performing arts, might spend more money on seeing events such as concerts or plays. Multiple students were interviewed and asked about their financial situation.


BVU is a private institution in Storm Lake, Iowa. The total cost to attend BVU during the 2012-2013 school year was $39,129. In comparison to other private colleges, BVU’s tuition is above the average. The average costs for a private non-profit, four-year institution is $25,665, according to the Iowa College Student Aid Commission. The most expensive college tuition during the 13-14 school year was Grinnell College at $43,270.

Zoey Reisdorf recently graduated from Buena Vista University (BVU). While she was at BVU, she studied History and Political Science. She is now working for BVU as a Freshmen Admissions Counselor.


Reisdorf used multiple ways to pay for her college expenses. One of the ways she was able to alleviate the costs was Tuition Exchange. Her mother had previously worked at Loras College, which allowed her to receive Tuition Exchange. With this program, a portion of Reisdorf’s tuition was paid by Loras College. The remainder of the bill was covered by federal and outside loans and the academic scholarship she received.


She worked at Sodexo Catering while she went to school at BVU, which was a non-work study job. Her hours working at Sodexo varied. While she was here, she was a track athlete, so her hours would depend on her track schedule. However, she guessed that she worked about 20 hours a week. The money earned at Sodexo Catering went toward personal expenses, such as baking supplies. She was expected to pay for books herself, but sometimes she would also pay for tuition. “I would say that I had more appreciation for what it took for me to go to school- especially at BVU, but I wouldn’t say that I would have valued my education any less.”


Reisdorf is similar to other students and graduates. According to The Institute for College Access and Success (TICAS), 69% of students who attend an Iowa public, four-year or private non-profit, four-year institutions have debt, which means that 31% do not have debt when they graduate. TICAS also claims that Iowa’s average amount of debt per student is $29,370, while the national average was $32,300, based on the 2012 graduate rates. BVU students graduate with an average debt of $20,067.

The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. A survey, available from March 19, 2015 to April 14, 2-15, had 52 responses. While the response rate was low, the data trends followed national and state trends. On the left shows the students’ responses of who would be in debt and how much. The survey also showed that 86.54%, or 45 respondents, use academic scholarships to pay for school. Outside scholarships were used by 46.15% (24), 80.77% (42) use work-study, cash, and jobs, 69.23% (36) use loans, and 13.46% (7) use other forms of payment. Families across the nation use a variety of ways to pay for college expenses, including cash, student loans or credit cards, tax breaks, financial aid, and scholarships.

National & BVU

Emily Johnson, Stephen Condon, Nadia Ecyomuhendo, Miguel Rodriguez, and Jaunita Mondragon all have completely different stories, but one thing that is in common is they all have to figure out a way to pay for school.


Johnson is a sophomore from Storm Lake, Iowa majoring in Digital Media. Condon and Rodriguez are both seniors. Condon is from Barnum, Iowa triple-majoring in Vocal Music Performance, Theatre, and Arts Management- Music. Rodriguez is a commuter from Storm Lake, Iowa. He is majoring in Computer Science. Mondragon, a freshman, majoring in Freshman Elementary Education is from Newell, Iowa. Ecyomuhendo, another freshman, is from Rwanda and majoring in Biology.


The five individuals each explain that they will have debt after college, and they all have to work. They each differ a little bit regarding what that money goes toward, but they each explain where they work and how much they work a week. A few of the students explain that they need to pay for their book or personal expenses. The students explain that they have to find some way

to balance their time between work, school, and free-time. Some students expressed the need to focus most on their academics.


Two individuals, a student and a graduate of BVU, told their stories. The first story is about Sloane Morrow. She is a current student at BVU. She is a junior, Elementary Education major.

Emily Johnson, Stephen Condon, Nadia Ecyomuhendo, Miguel Rodriguez, and Jaunita Mondragon all have completely different stories, but one thing that is in common is they all have to figure out a way to pay for school.

BVU students show independence and personal reliability. Many of the students who filled out the survey explained that they have other bills that they pay for themselves, such as cell phone, gas, car loans, insurance, and more. A few of the students also expressed concern about paying for college because they do not receive help from their families.


As a nation, college tuition is a hot topic. With the tuition increase almost every year, it becomes an important topic across the BVU campus as well. According to the Financial Aid department at BVU, the average amount of debt that a BVU graduates with is $20,067. Nationally, two-thirds (67%) of all college students graduate with student loans. About 81% of BVU graduates have debt. The survey results showed that most (23.08% or 10 respondents) students felt they would have between $20,000 and $30,000 in debt, followed by $10,000-$20,000 and $40,000-$50,000 at 19.23% (10), $30,000-$40,000 at 13.46% (7), $0 and $5,000-$10,000 at 9.62%, $0-$5,000 at 3.85% or (2), and $60,000-$80,000 at 1.92% (1).


With the tuition, room, and board for the 2015-2016 school year at $40,364 and the average BVU financial aid award at $30,907, the difference is about $9,457. It would make sense to see the most students estimating about $10,000 in debt after graduation.

Every college student has to deal with tuition. It’s unavoidable. Whether the student receives help, has college paid for, or works to pay it off, the price of tuition is relevant to them. The idea of college tuition increasing each year is a very real factor in a student’s attendance at college. Buena Vista University is just another college with students trying to pay for school.