We pay a lot of money for education, where does it all go?

by Hanna Moon, Contributor

In the 21st century, it’s expensive to be a student.

Apart from the living expenses that easily reach nearly $20,000 annually in sunny San Diego, the relatively low public university tuition is rising. Unfortunately, the intriguing breakdown of the tuition is made unknown to the buyers.

Students pay tuition for an education, a degree and for an experience. College provides an experience that is unique and growth-provoking, yet it’s hard to ignore the fact that it comes with an exorbitant price tag.

Without doubt, San Diego State is ranked significantly high in the “best-value” university lists. However, it must be acknowledged that every year, the price is going up.

This upcoming year, the in-state tuition silently rose to $7,084 from $6,976. It may only be 1.5 percent increase, but this amount is an extra $108 going out of the students’ pockets and altogether, from 2014 statistics of enrollment, the anticipated amount of the extra money collected from the increase comes out to be over $3 million.

Now, that is a lot of money unexplained.

In addition, I cannot recall all the times I was charged in my e-bills saying I owe some amount, unspecified, to the university as a “student fee.” This is not to question the competence or the integrity of the administrators, but to say that the tuition students pay disappears as “ghost money,” and it’s an upsetting reality students have no control over.

We aren’t talking about paying a few hundred for groceries, and even grocery stores give you a receipt telling you where your money was spent. This is a $7,000 investment in our future —summing up to a total cost of over $28,000 by the time we graduate (assuming there isn’t going to be a further increase of the tuition over the next few years, which is very highly unlikely).

We understand the professors’ salaries are expensive and renovation of dorm buildings are expensive. It’s expensive to run a university, not to mention the complexities of the budgeting process.

However, it doesn’t mean it’s impossible for the budget proposal to be distributed. Even the most complex budget spending — the White House budget — can be found on the government website.

On the website, detailed explanation and justification for fiscal budget breakdown can be found. Therefore, it doesn’t make sense for students to be completely uninformed of the budget breakdown of the tuition.

Students are only aware of what our tuition does not cover, rather than what it does. The university makes it very clear that the tuition does not cover books, career services, transcripts and, of course, the scantrons.

As an investor, as a consumer, students deserve to know the total breakdown of their tuition — a better explanation than just one word, “tuition,” to justify the unfathomable debt.