Opinion: Skyrocketing Tuition Prices Out Hawaii Families


Conrad Timothy

Students Mary Anton, Sisca Aaron, Kobe Ngirailemesang (from left to right) who are all members of Chaminade’s Micronesian Club, helped at Preview Day on Saturday by sharing information to interested high school students about the club.

College tuition at Chaminade more than tripled over the last 20 years rising from $4,250 a semester to $13,067. College students are being tasked with paying a whopping $26,135 a year.

Think of what you could buy with this amount of money. You could have some of the best seats in the house for the upcoming Super Bowl or take a trip around the world. A brand new 2019 Toyota Tacoma costs $24,000. You could buy yourself a truck and still have a few dollars left over for the gas.

Or, you could attend Chaminade University for nine months.

With the Fall 2019 semester is coming to an end, it is time once again to fork up thousands of dollars to pay for the spring semester. College tuition is getting out of hand, and if the price of tuition continues to rise at its current pace, 20 years from now people will need to pay $52,300 a year.

The youth of Hawaii is caught between a rock and the ocean: you need a college education to secure a high enough paying occupation, but the price of the college education is too high for most of Hawaii’s families.

Students graduating college these days have an enormous college debt to pay before even starting to make a living in the financial world. Student loan debt across Hawaii rose to $4.1 billion in 2018, which is an increase of 107 percent from $2 billion in 2008, according to a report from Experian. This is an all-time high in national trends. People with student loans in Hawaii owe about $21,500 on average. Student loan debt in Hawaii is only exceeded by mortgage debt.

Entering my senior year, I will owe close to $20,000 in student loans, which is very low compared to other students.

“College is very expensive, and I will for sure be in debt after I graduate in the Spring of 2021,” said Colby Gunderson, a junior majoring in Biology who will owe roughly $63,000 in student loans after he graduates. “I do question sometimes why the price of school goes up each semester and also find myself thinking about where all the money goes.”

Due to the high tuition cost, I live at home with my parents. I choose to give up the so-called “college experience” because I simply can’t afford to live on campus. Having to pay over $25,000 a year for school makes its extremely hard to survive on my own. Luckily, since I live at home, I am able to enjoy free home-cooked meals, whereas some students live off of Cup Noodles and chips because they can’t afford to buy dinner or groceries from the store. These foods are terrible for your nutrition, but we have to buy the cheapest, most affordable foods and snacks because of the lack of money.

The average cost of tuition for private colleges in Hawaii was a whopping $34,740 a year, according to College Board, a nonprofit organization that connects students to college success. The cost of tuition to attend UH Manoa this year is $9,970 for in-state residents. College is more expensive than it’s ever been, and the sad thing is that it will only get worse as the price will continue to rise.

If the state of Hawaii and its leadership were serious about education being one of the most important topics, Hawaii should lower the cost of tuition and offer every student who wishes to attend college a chance to experience higher education that would be way more affordable. By reducing the price of tuition, students and families would not face such a big burden to pay an extremely crazy amount of money. This would be like a small door opening for those families that could not afford any college tuition. If the state of Hawaii can spend billions of dollars on a rail, then reducing college tuition cost shouldn’t be out of the question.