As the cost to attend college rises nationally, officials at California State University, Fresno will tout a decrease in costs at this weekend’s University Open House (Saturday, Oct. 31), one of several observances of the “College Is Possible” national campaign.
About 1,200 institutions of higher education are participating in the national campaign, launched last week by the Coalition of America’s Colleges and Universities, to demonstrate that support is available for American families searching for ways to pay for a college degree.
In announcing Fresno State’s participation, President John D. Welty said the campaign — slated to run through the year 2000 — is committed to getting a simple three-word message out to the American people: College is Possible.
He said it is a response to survey research conducted earlier this year that showed that, while parents and students value a college education, many dramatically overestimate the price — often by as much as 200 percent — and underestimate the resources that are available to them to help pay for college.
“The danger is that many citizens will miss out on the opportunity for a college education because they do not have adequate information about the range of options and sources of help,” said President Welty in announcing Fresno State’s participation in the national campaign.
Fresno State is observing the College is Possible campaign with Saturday’s Open House and by noting that the university bucks the national trend of increases.
According to two College Board studies released in October, college costs have risen by about four percent nationally, while Fresno State’s $1,794 annual fee is down from last year’s $1,822 — nearly a 2 percent decrease.
Additionally, Fresno State’s fee is nearly 40 percent less than the national average of $3,243 for four-year public institutions reported in one of the surveys, “Trends in College Pricing 1998.”
“Undergraduates at American colleges will pay, on average, approximately four percent more this year than last in tuition and fees at four-year public institutions,” the College Board reported. “Depending on the type of institution, that means students will pay from $66 more to $723 more than last year.”
The College Board’s Annual Survey of Colleges, 1998-99, is the basis for data collected in “Trends in College Pricing 1998.”
Bernie Vinovrski, the university’s assistant vice president for enrollment services, downplays such surveys but said they nonetheless illustrate that at Fresno State, students get valuable education for their investment. He said it is important that students and parents understand that the quality of Fresno State’s education far exceeds its costs.
“The average college-bound student doesn’t pay attention to these surveys,” said Vinovrski, adding that University Outreach Services recruiters have been touting Fresno State as providing an “inexpensive but quality” education.
College Board President Donald M. Stewart said the surveys’ results give the public, particularly policy makers, “a comprehensive picture of the financial realities and challenges facing college students and their families.”
Stewart encouraged colleges to do more to hold the line on rising prices; he also encouraged families to plan ahead in order to finance college expenses.
“The cost of attending college presents a steadily rising challenge to many Americans — particularly the most financially disadvantaged,” Stewart said.
Though costs rose, financial aid also increased according to the second survey, “Trends in Student Aid 1998,” which is the College Board’s annual report.
More than $60 billion in total aid from federal, state, and institutional sources was available to students and their families in 1997-98 to assist with tuition, fees, and other expenses of attending college — an increase of 6 percent over the previous year, after adjusting for inflation.
At Fresno State, approximately $73 million was awarded for 1998-99 to students needing financial assistance, compared to more than $66 million last year, a 17 percent increase.
The surveys also reported that students can expect to face charges of 3 to 5 percent more for room and board but national campaign to promote college by the Coalition of America’s Colleges and Universities seeks to make the public aware that help is available.
The campaign was kicked off Tuesday, October 27 at the Martin Luther King Memorial Library in Washington, D.C.
The coalition has developed resources to help parents and students who are looking for answers. Its website, www.CollegeIsPossible.org, is a “one-stop-shop” with links and information on books, websites, and brochures recommend by admissions and financial aid professionals.
Parents and students may access much of the same information by calling the U.S. Department of Education’s special toll-free number for college information, 1 (800) 433-3243, and requesting the College is Possible brochure. This toll-free number offers information on preparing and paying for college.
Additional information is available through Fresno State’s University Outreach Services office at (209) 278-2048.