It’s almost that time to put down another deposit for BC. While we might cry as our bank accounts run dry, the administration dances as our money gets siphoned into the football team. Will the cycle ever stop? Unfortunately, the game never ends, but believe it or not, once upon a time tuition was manageable.
Let’s take things back to 1955. Globally, this was a pretty stellar year. Disneyland opened, civilization was graced with the creation of “The Guinness Book of World Records”, McDonald’s unveiled its chicken nuggets to the American population for the first time, and my grandfather was an Eagle.
That year, Gramps got a notice from the Eagle Nation stating the following, “This is to inform you of an increase of $100.00 in tuition at Boston College which will go into effect during the school years, 1955-1956 and 1956-1957. This increase will be made at the rate of $50.00 per year for each of these two years… 1956 the tuition will be $600.00”.
Now, take a moment to admire the fact that in a span of two years the board of trustees increased tuition by 20 percent. Not cool at all. Now that’s a pretty steep increase, and there was some griping and moaning. Heck, I’m sure some tears were even shed on everyone’s part, but for better or for worse, things remained as they’d always been.
Let’s explore why. In 1957 the average wage index was $3,641.72, meaning the price to attend an institute of higher education was around 16.4% of your average joe’s income. Today the average wage index is $55,775. With tuition costing $50,048 without room and board this means that 89.7% of the salary is thrown towards BC. Furthermore, when adding other possible fees and room and board it accounts to 117.6% of the average American’s pay.
Clearly, there’s a problem. It becomes more concerning when taking into consideration today’s inflation. Upon adjusting the average wage in 1957, it comes out to be $31,291.13. This means Americans are much better off now than they were in 1957, yet we’re still paying more of our salary to learning institutions.
So why was there not much complaining with the tuition increase in 1957? The easy answer: because it was still far more manageable to pay. In fact, as a student if you held a part time job for a year you could pay for two years of tuition. There was no massive debt like there is today. The average joe made a dollar an hour, around $8.31 today when taking into account inflation. This means if you worked 600 hours, college was essentially paid for. That’s 20 workweeks of 30 hours or 40 weeks of 15 hours.
The minimum wage in Massachusetts is currently $10. Trying to pay off tuition alone would require 5,577.5 hours of work, or it would be 185.9 30-hour work weeks. In short, it is now impossible to pay for college with a part time job alone.
So as we approach the end of the fall semester and begin prepping ourselves to sign away another portion of our soul, let’s think back to why we wish we were all currently living in 1955. Elvis Presley was still with us, “The Mickey Mouse Club” debuted on ABC, and Legos made their way into every child’s heart and became every adult foot’s worst nightmare.
Photo One courtesy of author . Photo Two