A look back at college expenses

Jack Puterbaugh
Contributing Writer

The latest issue of the Isanti County News carried stories on the graduation ceremonies at Cambridge-Isanti High School and Braham Area High School.

Graduates can now start a new phase of their “life journey.” For many that will mean additional time in school, and that will be rather costly. For example, proposed tuition next year at the University of Minnesota will be $11,650. When I enrolled at the U of M in the fall of 1943 the tuition was $15 per quarter; which works out to $45 per year.

A fee statement shows the expenses when Jack Puterbaugh attended the University of Minnesota.

During that first quarter at the U of M, I stayed at the “Amigo Club” located at 1721 University Ave. S.E. The charge for room and board was $40 per month. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to finish that first quarter as Uncle Sam wanted me for service in the Army Air Corps.

When I returned to the University after my time in the service under the GI Bill, the University was allowed to charge returning veterans out of state tuition, and that charge came to $56 per quarter. To help pay the costs for that first quarter of going to the University I had a part-time job as a Street Car Conductor on the Como Harriet Line. Street Cars, of course, disappeared a long time ago.

Today I am told it is not uncommon for a college graduate to be liable for student loans in excess of $100,000, and more if you finish a professional education like medicine or law.

Several years ago I had the opportunity to visit a class at the University of Dalarna in Falun, Sweden. Out of the 100 or so students in the class, approximately 20 percent were Americans. They did not pay tuition since they were treated as Swedish students. In Sweden tuition is not charged to attend a college or university.

Sometimes I wonder if we are really thinking of our country’s future when our brightest and best leave with diploma in hand, but faced with repaying a rather sizeable debt. Is this how the Chinese and Indians do it?

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