Study reveals the true cause of rising college costs

Jess Chalas

College freshmen are notorious for unknowingly buying much more than is necessary for their first year. The rest of the student body just buys way too much on principle. Either way, CWRU students are anxiously awaiting those Wal-Mart dealsfrom books to lamps to alarm clocks (on which the snooze button must work properly). Despite the fact that Wal-Mart and other such supermarkets cater to students in grades K through 12, the main consumers are, year after year, college students.

“It’s the nostalgia, I think,” says senior Layla Cito. “I just love the little notebooks and pencil cases and sharpeners and glue sticks!”

Longing to relive their younger years with the addition of their newfound freedom, college students can’t get enough of the My Little Pony folders and Superman lunchboxes. Moreover, with dorm room living comes the reappearance of polka dot pajamas, giant beanbag chairs and stuffed animalsfrom puppies to dolphins to penguins, oh my.

In fact, employees over at the Office of University Financial Aid have noticed the increase in spending on these “luxury” items and have, accordingly, increased the estimated allowance for the “Other” category of the college cost breakdown. Discussion on this topic arose after the recent release of a four-year study on college spending. The researchers discovered that over 80 percent of college costs were geared toward school supplies (predominantly book bags, computers, notebooks/planners and multi-colored pens). Follow-up surveys showed thatalthough the computers were put to good usethe backpacks had been replaced by purses and/or pockets, the notebooks had been recycled and the pens had disappeared altogether.

It is a common myth that college costs go up every year due to increases in tuition. Recent studies have put this theory to rest, showing that nearly all increases are due to students’ rising demand for supplies they likely don’t need and often won’t use. Financial aid officials across the country are now urging company suppliers to “eliminate the cute characters, choose blander colors and incorporate duller designs,” to decrease spending (and complaint emails from students regarding college costs).

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