Is going to a university worth it?

Mason Dunleavy, Opinion Writer

So, what is the price of going to a university? Does anyone know the true cost? Think about it.


Statistics may vary from program to program at UND considering all the factors in tuition cost, so I’ll use my own. I owe $12,130 to the government from FAFSA and I’m two years in, which means $6,065 borrowed per year. Now let’s factor in the actual cost. The first year is the most expensive at $11,861, this is after FAFSA by the way. My second year came out to $3,618 after FAFSA. Why is the first year so expensive? It’s due to living in the dorm and buying the meal plan, which was about $4,000 per semester. The cost of schooling for two years comes out to $27,610, but I did have some medical costs that were charged with my tuition, these came out to about $100.


Since I don’t live in the dorms anymore, I pay for rent and my food. I spend about $450 a month on rent, utilities, and food. Now some of you may be questioning that amount, but I’ve been living on Walmart frozen chicken breast and rice, I know how to budget. Plus, Grand Forks housing is awesomely cheap. Considering it’s a yearlong lease that comes out to roughly $5,400 for this year. Quite a savings from the first year $8,000 on the dorm and meal plan.

So, my total living and schooling cost for two years comes to $33,010. Is that all I’m really losing though?


You always have to think about opportunity cost. In August I was working at $14 an hour, 40 hours a week, which would come out to roughly $2,200 a month. If I had continued working through the nine month school year I would earn about $19,800 a year, so add that to the cost.

Now, the total cost is at $72,610 for two years or $36,305 per year.


Let’s look at a couple of things that could make college life more profitable. People often say college is supposed to be about having fun and exploring. I don’t know about you, but I’m not spending that amount of money to waste it on fun. So, what is there to do to occupy my free time while also working towards my future? Other than the occasional hockey game, I’m working two jobs (an office assistant and writer) and taking 13 credits. If I really wanted to maximize my tuition costs I could take more classes, but I get burnt out with a big school load. Why these jobs? Couldn’t I be earning more money somewhere? Probably. So why don’t I? To me, it’s all about my resume. I feel like an office environment and writing is going to look better than working unskilled labor, even if it means getting paid less right now.


Well? Is going to a university worth it?


It depends. I’ve only spoken for myself. Who am I to say that others will follow the same path as I have? Some students pursue majors with no backup plan and that’s when they get hurt the most, or they just simply have too much fun. College is supposed to be expanding your knowledge in a variety of subjects. Focusing in on a single area is where I believe students go wrong, especially if you’re majoring in something with few job opportunities. It’s also a wise move to go to community college for the first two years to save money. People must think, most people go to college, our population is expanding vastly, that means heavy competition for jobs requiring degrees. If you don’t put in the work while you’re here, someone else will get the job, someone that has put in the work.


For a final four-year total based on my average yearly total, it would be approximately $145,220. That is a hefty sum, but how much will I have increased my average income just by doing the work and going to school? I guess we’ll see when I graduate. With what I’ve done with my time at UND, and the connections I’ve made through school, I’d say college is worth it, only if you put in the work.