A college degree is invaluable.
This concept has been ingrained in our minds since the beginning of our academic careers. Upon graduation, it all becomes worthwhile. The opportunities are limitless. It’s why we’re all here. It’s why we chose Lehigh. It’s why we continue to pay for and support this institution without question because we confidently believe that on top of an invaluable degree, we are receiving unending opportunities and resources to succeed and no price tag can truly encapsulate all that, that is worth.
However, on Thursday, Jan. 31, a day where unsalted roads and broken down buses left students practically ice skating to class, this belief was called into question. In addition to the administration’s poor handling of the coldest day of the year, frostbitten fingers opened a four sentence email from The Office of Finance and Administration.
It alarmed students that next year’s tuition will increase by 4.4 percent, or by $2,310, from $52,480 to $54,790. This would make the total cost of attending Lehigh as an undergraduate approximately $69,650.
This increase could detract potential students from attending Lehigh. Prospective students have to balance the pros and cons of student loans and the value of a Lehigh degree.
Amidst an already questionable Path to Prominence, Lehigh students continue to feel as though their grievances go unheard, while the price for these grievances continues to rise.
It is days like these that cause students to question the value of a Lehigh education. We all chose this institution for a reason, for the promise of connections both social and professional, for an exemplary education and for the promised degree — a key into the world of success.
But at what cost? At what point does the tuition become too much? Are we nearing a point where the cost of education will outweigh the legitimate value of a degree?
As the price of college continues to increase nationwide, education becomes less desirable when the prospects of years of student loan debts make it more financially sound to not go at all, or to consider alternative means of education.
While Lehigh is not solely responsible for this trend, in the past year, the university has spearheaded more of a revolution than an improvement project.
Despite the typical nature of institutions to fund improvement projects with tuition money, Lehigh students continuously struggle to grasp being fiscally responsible for building a College of Health, admitting 1,000 new students and making campus improvement plans that they will not be able to enjoy during their time at Lehigh.
It is true, however, that in Lehigh’s seemingly never ending attempts to climb, the ultimate value of graduating with a Lehigh degree will increase; the Lehigh University name will become increasingly reputable, and ideally this will lead to greater opportunities for its students and graduates.
While desirable in the long-run, university-wide improvements come at an immediate cost to current students. In addition to increasing tuition, Lehigh failed to notify students that, despite a $1 million fundraising campaign, they have discontinued the President’s Scholar Program, one of the university’s most celebrated awards, leaving only a one sentence explanation on its web page. Students who graduate with a 3.75 GPA or higher were previously eligible to receive a fifth year, tuition free, to earn their masters. Although it is still available to current students on track to receive the scholarship, this represents one of the countless changes the administration has made in the past year to promote Lehigh while inhibiting its students.
The administration consistently turns a blind eye to the needs of its current students in an effort to promote the image of the campus while neglecting to realize that without a satisfied student body, the school has nothing. As tuition continues to rise, Lehigh and institutions like it are on track to cost $90,000 within the next 10 years, causing students, present and future, to wonder what the value of a college education truly is.