MASON CITY, Iowa – The words “Inexpensive” and “College” rarely go together.
“I mean it was a lot cheaper back in the days, now a day’s people get in 100,000 dollars in debt coming out of school,” said Mason Powers.
Many students like Mason Powers are looking at ways to avoid that.
It’s one reason he’s now a sophomore at NIACC.
“I wanted somewhere where I wouldn’t be in a lot of debt and I could afford to go to school,” said Powers.
“My grandparents were telling me that NIACC would be a good choice because i’m from Mason City so it’d be cheaper, stay at home,” said Nicolle Hewett, a freshman at NIACC.
But from what they’ve heard from their parents and grandparents, college costs weren’t always this way.
It was quite different 70 years ago when it comes to cost.
After WWII college started to become quite popular to attend due to the GI bill making it affordable for veterans, according to a professor at the University of Kentucky.
The economy was great in 1944, so there wasn’t much of a limit when it came to spending money for vets to attend.
The Federal Perkins Loan Program was then created to open the doors to other families to be able to send their kids off to school.
In 1965 between the civil rights movement and higher education act, universities were practically paying for kids to come.
Then in 1970, things went south.
Between inflation rates rising and a not so good economy that’s when college costs had to start coming out of our pockets instead of the colleges’.
“When I went to college of course that was quite a while ago and costs were a lot less however so was income,” said Mary Bloomingdale.
Mary Bloomingdale is the Director of Financial Aid at NIACC, and has been helping kids find a way to afford college for more than 20 years.
She says in her time at this job, many things have changed.
“Limits are set on the amount of grant money available in the amount of student loans available that students can take by congress. For many years we’ve seen the Pell grant amounts increase and then go stagnant for awhile,” said Bloomingdale.
But no matter what the cost, these students aren’t giving up their dreams.
“But I’m very conservative with my money and I want a bright future,” said Powers.
Many families are adjusting to the high costs, by thinking of alternatives like going to a community college first.
But experts say a college education may not hold the same clout that it did years ago.