Sunday, November 23, 2014

Story of a Couch: Fun Times Paying College Tuition (with guest appearances by Rick Grimes and the zombies from The Walking Dead)

Next week our son's mind-blowingly large second term college bill is due. And just as mind-blowingly, my husband and I will scrounge up the funds to pay it.

Say wah??

Younger daughter is a high school senior, and next year, we will be paying TWO bills. I know!! It freaks me out too!!

No. No. No. There is NO way you will be able to do this. 

But we ARE, Rick Grimes. Somehow, we are.

But how, Jody? It's INSANE. 

This is true too, Mr. Grimes. College costs are crazy high. I could do some online research and give you actual numbers but I don't feel like doing that. So you're going to have to take my Anecdotal/I Remember Reading About This Stuff word for it.

It costs a lot to go to college these days.

(A college parent, upon receiving a bill)
Kids are taking out insane loans that cripple them the moment they throw their caps up in the air. I've heard some people in the, ahem, somewhat older generation, kinda mocking this phenomenon, saying crap like: In my day, I worked two jobs and put myself through college, yadda ya.

blah di blah blah
Right, Gramps. I'm sure you did. But college costs more today.

For comparison purposes (OKAY, I did the research) If you went to Ohio State University in 1970, you would pay $1,550-1,700 per year. If you went to Yale, you'd paid $3,900. 

Today: that's $21,703 at OSU and $63,250 at Yale.

Old Zombie Man: But isn't that sorta the same when you factor in the cost of living blah blah, etc?

Author of this blog: No.

OZM: I don't believe you.

Author of this blog: Oh my Lord, please don't make me do math.

OZM: Then I don't believe you. Meh bluh gripey gripe.

All right, I will do math. Damn it.


FYI -- minimum wage in 1970 was $1.45
Today it is $7.25 (really. I just looked it up) 

Example 1: 1970 college-age guy works 40 hours per week for ten weeks during the summer, at $1.45 an hour and earns $580 by the end of the summer. He works part-time (20 hrs) during the school year and earns 1,218. Wah lah! He can afford OSU totally on his own with no help from his parents or loans or the government.*

Example 2: 2014 college student works the summer at $7.25 per hour and earns $2,900. She works the rest of the year part-time and earns $6090. She is still short $12,713 for OSU** But no need to stress: Yale will give her a decent financial package.***

*The government used to invest more in public education, which is why it was more affordable. I know. It's crazy! Our country used to care about stuff like that. Now, Old Zombie Men defund higher education and at the same time complain about how lazy kids are.  

**tuition only (no room and board) is 10,010, and she almost has enough. But she'll still need to cough up living expenses if her parents won't/can't support her. Note that the 1970 guy earns enough money for tuition AND room and board, with money left over for pizza.****

*** If she can get in. 

****a slice of pizza in 1970 was 35 cents.

So, yes, it really does cost a lot to go to college these days, but my husband and I are in a position to take care of it.

I know we are lucky, and I am grateful for the rays of the Universe shining down upon us.  


Which doesn't make the mind-blowingly large bill any easier to look at and/or pay.

Sacrifices must be made.

And all of this brings me back to the point of this blog. A couch. Specifically, two couches.

A few weeks ago my husband was downstairs in our den watching TV, and he called me down to watch something with him and we both realized that I rarely sit in the den anymore. For a variety of reasons. One, I have a hard time sitting. See: cyst in my back. But also, because I really don't like the couches in our den.

Once upon a time, I thought the couches were nice. Comfy and bright and modern-looking and pretty much perfect for a young happy family.

Lately, (like, maybe for the past two or three years?) the couches aren't comfy. Or bright. Or modern-looking. They're faded and flattened and also randomly lumpy. There are wires poking out in hazardous places. We lost a remote control for a couple of years and didn't realize we'd been sitting on it because it had slipped into a hole in the material and found its way to some other part of the couch underneath that we couldn't see.

The dog sleeps on the pillows and has smushed them out of shape.

Years of kids jumping on the couches and eating cinnamon toast and spilling sodas and chocolate milks, sweat and dirt and people's shoes have all taken a toll.

The couches are ugly.

To be honest, they reek.

I don't want to watch TV and flop out on one of the couches anymore. I don't even want to look at the couches anymore.

Last week I was ranting about our disgusting couches to one of my friends, and she asked the obvious question: Why don't you buy new couches?

Hmm. Why don't we buy new couches?

Read the first sentences of this blog again for the answer.

Reeking couch  circa 2014

(The same couch in 1970. Nah. Just joking.
The same couch in 2004--
when these two future college-going cuteys were in elementary school)

PS. Conclusion: college is for the rich and blessed and now I feel like I'm almost as bad as Old Zombie Man for even griping about it if the biggest sacrifice my husband and I have to make in order for our kids to go to school is to park our butts on stinky couches for five more years.


  1. I heard the other day that if the cost of milk had grown at the rate of college costs in the past thirty years, milk would now be $27 a gallon.

  2. I hear ya' one who is paying college tuition times two right now. Gulp. No worries though, one day we'll get these wonderful kids through college and then we'll replace the darn couches AND take a fabulous cruise!
    By the way, Tim still feels vindicated that there is now proof that he did NOT in fact steal the remotes. He'll take every toothbrush and tube of toothpaste in the house, but he knows to leave Rick's remotes alone.
    Can't wait to sit on your gnarly old couch with you soon. We'll bring some febreeze.

    1. Ha. I almost mentioned the Blame Tim for Stealing the Remote Story in this post but think it might be better filed under a future post on Don't Jump to Conclusions about Theft -or- Jody Is The Finder of All Things.

  3. But I disagree about underfunding public universities. They just add perks to compete with other campuses that have nothing to do with academia, like ridiculously nice dorm upgrades, coffee shops, fitness facilities, restaurants on campus, etc.

    1. Hmm. You might be onto something there. It would be interesting to look into (interesting in the sense that I don't feel like looking into it...) but, what you'd have to compare is how much money state legislatures allocated to public universities then and now-- and looked at how universities allocated their own budgets. Salaries, pensions, buildings, etc VS perks like coffee shops etc. Maybe they didn't have the same perks as today, but didn't they have other perks like maids, launderers, live-in room mothers?

  4. Story of a Couch Update: So, I ended up doing more research and found out lots of interesting information. States ARE funding their institutions of higher learning at lower levels. Some of this is the result of the recession in 2008, but they haven't raised their funding since that time. According to Inside Higher Education: "state appropriations for colleges and students sunk by 7.6 percent in 2011-12, the largest such decline in at least a half century."

    Students are responsible for more of the cost--which means larger student loans. The state colleges are competing with private schools for paying customers (upper middle class kids who can PAY) and of course for a slice of those government guaranteed-student loans, so Donna is right that colleges are putting money into amenities like pasta bars and state of the art facilities-- but not into helping kids out with tuition, and not paying more to professors.

    A range of thoughts on the subject: