College price tag: Students urged to look beyond cost of tuition

Nov 3, 2013 by

University of Southern Mississippi senior Jules Peralta works two jobs and gets some financial help from his parents, but he still worries about how to pay for rent, utilities, food, gas, car repairs and any emergency that might arise.

“Food has been the biggest expense other than the utilities,” he said. “Last year, when I lived in the dorms, the main thing that killed me was the books. I think I ended up spending near $1,000.”

According to the Southern Miss Financial Aid Office, tuition at the school this year was more than $6,700 for in-state students — but that’s less than one-third of the total cost of attending the university. Books, fees, personal expenses, room and board, and transportation add up to about another $12,250.

Peralta works as a manager at GameStop in Hattiesburg, making a little more than minimum wage while maintaining a second job as an overnight desk assistant on campus.

“I’m mainly doing it to save up extra money to make sure I have enough,” he said. “That’s the main push I had towards getting two jobs was to keep myself secure.”

Some students may not think about the entire price tag attached to higher education when they apply to college, but the importance of looking at the bigger financial picture is something Mississippi’s universities are encouraging — especially as costs continue to rise.

Figures provided by the University of Southern Mississippi, Ole Miss, Mississippi State and Jackson State show increases in a variety of areas:

Since the 2008-2009 school year, each university has seen a tuition increase of more than $1,500.

Average costs for room and board at each of the four universities have increased more than $1,300 since 2008.

During the past five years, the total estimated cost of attendance has jumped more than $4,000 at Mississippi State, Ole Miss and Southern Miss. It has increased by more than $3,000 at Jackson State.

Southern Miss, Ole Miss, Mississippi State and Jackson State all face tuition increases in fall 2014 and fall 2015. The College Board gave preliminary approval in October for tuition costs to rise, but a second vote must be taken before anything is final.

via College price tag: Students urged to look beyond cost of tuition | The Clarion-Ledger |

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