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Even though I've earned some scholarships via that route, it's only a fraction of the yearly cost of attendance

College is expensive. The grass is green, the sky is blue and going to a university costs an arm and a leg. Alyson Johnston

I grew up just accepting this as a fact. As I go about my senior year, though, the words are beginning to hold real meaning. And I don't like it one bit.

In-state tuition at Oregon and Oregon State is in the $11,000 to $12,000 range. Room and board for both schools is near $12,000 as well. With the cost of books and other fees, both institutions budget the cost of attendance for an Oregon resident to be around $27,000. Per year.

"Why pay for out-of-state college when you can get a similar education for so much cheaper here in Oregon?" I've heard that question posed many times, in many different ways. The idea of saving money simply by going to a state school is great — attending the school that costs the least is likely going to be my plan.

The fact of the matter, though, is staying in-state isn't really that cheap. While staying in Oregon does save a significant amount of money, going to a four-year university is simply expensive.

Most schools I've applied to offer merit scholarships, which are based on your GPA and SAT scores. Even though I've earned some scholarships via that route, it's only a fraction of the yearly cost of attendance.

Of course, to save money, there's always the option of going to a community college. That's a great choice for many people and a genuinely smart option financially.

I, personally, have always been set on the idea of going straight to a four-year university right out of high school, so I'm willing to pay the extra money to meet that goal.

Plus, someone seeking a four-year degree will still have to attend a university — although they may not have to pay room and board, the tuition is still expensive.

Choosing to pay extra to attend a four-year college doesn't mean that I can't still complain about how ridiculously expensive it is, though. In my opinion, having the college experience that OSU and UO provide shouldn't cost around $27,000 per year.

Maybe that's just my idealistic, naive view of society. Some people may fault me for that — being so young, I feel that things should be fair and accessible since I'm not quite as well-versed in money as adults.

But isn't that the view we should all have? Accepting the high prices of post-secondary education isn't something that should be second nature. College should be for everyone, not just those who can afford it.

So, my message to anyone reading this: think about and recognize how much college really costs. Maybe think about ways to help support education in your community. Today's students need financial help to become the leaders of tomorrow.

The expensive price of college shouldn't be a fact of life.

The grass is green, the sky is blue, and college should be accessible to everyone.

Alyson Johnston is a senior at Wilsonville High School.


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