Tuition is too damn high: American vs. European universities

I’ll admit that when I first chose TCU, I wasn’t looking for the cheapest option. In 2012, the total cost of attendance was around $48,000 a year (it’s now jumped to $59,370, but that’s a whole other story).

Interest is coming.

I knew that I wanted a great education at a small liberal arts school, and of course most of my options turned out to be private schools. I did land a sizable academic scholarship that helped pay for some of my school, but if I didn’t have a generous grandma with a passion for education, I would be going to community college instead–or at least be elbow-deep in crippling student debt. (Not-so-fun fact: American federal student loan debt now adds up to about $1 trillion!) American college ain’t cheap, and tuition is only growing, at 500% of what it was in 1985.

Naturally, when I discovered that in Europe, most countries subsidize university education, I was stunned. Spaniards only have to pay between €600 and €1,800 per year (at a public university, but still). In Germany, a university education is now completely free. Some students at UPO have been handing out flyers for their upcoming protest of “the privatization of public universities” (aka, a tuition jump of about €100). One of my roommates told me she almost started laughing when she heard them ranting. If only they knew we attend a school that costs about 65 times as much.

They should be glad they’re graduating without massive student debt.

Luckily, the high price of American tuition does ensure a better quality education, at least from what I’ve seen. Of course, I’m not taking any classes with Spaniards, but from what I can tell the professors at TCU are more qualified than the ones I’ve had at UPO, even if they’re not bilingual. They also just seem to be better teachers, which is one of the reasons I decided to attend TCU in the first place. Like most students, I do much better in school when I’m encouraged by a great teacher.

I guess high tuition is only to be expected from a school that had millions of dollars set aside for flower upkeep…

When I asked my host dad, Alberto, for his opinion on the price of university education in Spain, his immediate response was “demasiado caro” (too expensive). For him, about €800 a year was too expensive. When I laughed, he realized pretty quickly that it was more of a pained laugh than an amused one. “¿Y en los Estados Unidos? Es mucho más caro, no?” he asked.

, Alberto. . He looked floored when I explained that a year of school at TCU now costs almost $60,000. He did point out that for most Spaniards, a middle-class worker makes only about €40,000 a year. (And the euro is exactly $1.09 right now, so that’s basically equivalent.) Housing is also way cheaper in Spain (about €800 a month for a three-bedroom house in a good location in Sevilla). So maybe they make up for their cheap university cost with smaller salaries and a cheaper standard of living?

Either way, I can’t help but be jealous of my host mom, Raquel, who’s currently getting her master’s in Pychology at a private Spanish university for free with a scholarship. I have a 3.9 GPA at TCU and I’m not getting anything for free.

Still, as I always remind myself when I hear my friends from other schools talk about their tuition being under $10,000 a year, I wouldn’t trade my TCU education for the world. (Or €800.)

Go Frogs!

2 thoughts on “Tuition is too damn high: American vs. European universities

  1. Elle, are you a senior next year? Would you consider being an intern for The TCU Magazine? We have one meeting a week, at 11 on Wednesdays, and that’s the only hour you’d have to appear at our office. Your stuff is great and should be in print. (No doubt it will be, I am just trying to snag you before the real world does.)

    Keep up the fabulous work, and please message or email me soon if you’re interested.

    Best and Go Frogs,

    Tracy Bristol

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi, Tracy! Thanks for the kind words, but unfortunately I have class at 11 on Wednesdays (I assume you mean in the morning). I’d love to intern with you, but I’m not sure how that would work out with the magazine’s schedule. I also have a writing internship and a job at the writing center, and I haven’t gotten schedules for either.

      Thanks again! Go Frogs 🙂


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