(After a recent Patch article about , San Leandro resident Angela Marrujo joined a discussion on our Facebook page. It led her to write this lightly edited first person account of what she and her college-educated peers can anticipate.)
I'm not really sure where to begin, but I guess I'll just describe my experience at San Francisco State University so far.
I graduated from San Leandro High in 2009 and am currently a Junior and in my third year at San Francsico State University.
In my first semester, getting classes wasn't too difficult, and I was able to immediately start getting my general education requirements out of the way.
I was, however, surprised by how expensive tuition was, and disappointed that when I got back the results of my Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). I was told that my parents made too much for me to qualify for grants.
The one loan I qualified for and accepted didn't even fully cover the cost of tuition and I had to come up with $600 out of pocket to pay it off. I then had to take out a second loan to be able to continue to afford to go to school.
I am currently relying on a subsidized and unsubsidized government loan to go to school, and owe SFSU about $18,000.
The cost of attendance isn't just in the tuition. Books are outrageously priced for college students and unjustifiably so in my opinion.
Last semester I spent over $500 in books. This semester I spent around $300, and previous semesters books have ranged between $300 to $400.
What's worse is that when you go back to the SFSU bookstore to sell your books at the end of the semester, you're given a fraction of what you paid for them. Last semester's return was the worst: I got about $60 dollars back from a $500 investment. That's a little more than 10% back from what I shelled out.
Don't get me wrong, I'm grateful for any little bit to help, but come on!
Tuition has risen substantially due to all of the fee hikes the state has imposed on Univeristy of California and California State University campuses.
Usually at the beginning of my semester when my tuition is paid for, I'll get a check from SFSU for the extra balance of my loans that wasn't needed, and I'll use that money to pay for my books.
Each year the remaining amount I get back continues to shrink as the cost of tuition and fees go up and I worry that it's going to reach a point where my loans won't cover the costs anymore. I'm already being supported by two loans, I don't want to take out a third. That would be ridiculous.
I work part-time which helps a bit. I make about $300 to $400 dollars a month if I'm lucky. I commute to school daily on BART, which is $9 a day, five days a week. That's roughly $180 dollars a month on commuting alone.
Eve so, I'm lucky to live at home, which cuts down on what I'd be spending on rent, food, utilities and etcetera if I were living alone or with roommates
The budget cuts on CSU and UC schools have affected how many classes are available for enrollment every semester. Classes needed to satisfy GE requirements are snatched up instantly during registration times, and classes needed for your major are always in high demand: whether or not you get into them has turned into a matter of chance.
This in turn causes you to have to wait until the next semester to take what you need which in turn extends the amount of time needed to complete your degree. The longer it takes the more you owe in tuition.
It's a vicious cycle that seems never ending and it's frustrating when SFSU says you need certain classes to graduate and they don't have the resources to provide enough of them.
That's a sample of what my experience has been so far with college and SFSU.
I'm sure there's more I could say, I just didn't want to overwhelm you with too much info