College tuition hinders student success

Michelle Fernandez, a first-generation Cuban-American, hopes to be the first one in her family to graduate from college but with the high cost of tuition that may not be a possibility.

Fernandez, a sophomore at the University of Tampa majoring in Biology, has had to acquire two jobs in order to pay the university’s high tuition rate.

“I went to college thinking that it was going to be difficult because of the coursework but I never really expected the cost of tuition to be as big of a factor as it is,” Fernandez said. “I realize I go to a private university, but the cost of school can be a huge distraction from actual school work and scholarships are never really as easy to get as people make them out to be.”

Currently, student debt has skyrocketed to new heights. According to findings by the Federal Reserve, as recent as March, student debt in the U.S. has reached about $1.2 trillion across the board.

With the upcoming election, this issue has become even more pressing. Politicians on both sides are trying to come up with a reasonable solution. For instance, presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders is in favor of eliminating college tuition, stating that he believes a college education should be free in the U.S.

This idea may seem radical to many people at first, but many universities in the U.S. previously operated in such a manner. Currently, a small portion of universities does not charge tuition. These universities still may charge for things such as room and board, but tuition is not included.

However, not all students find the cost of tuition to be an issue. Both sides of the spectrum are equally represented when it comes to this particular issue.

“I am personally from Jamaica and I know that some people that are from the U.S. might find the tuition expensive, but for international students like me, it is worth it to get the experience of going to school in the United States,” Wainwright Heron, a senior at the University of South Florida majoring in economics, said. “For the opportunity to get a quality education abroad, I see no issue with paying the cost.”

Even at schools where tuition is charged there are alternatives to paying out of pocket. Most universities offer programs such as federal work study, grants, and scholarships in order to ease the financial burden on students.

“The controversy over making universities tuition-free is not holistically an economic one but rather the monetary aspect is a portion of a greater issue,” Javier Rodriguez, an economist, said. “By making tuition free to everyone, unfortunately, we would be devaluing the merit of earning a degree. A college degree would be as useful as a high school diploma.”

There are many issues that impact students from homesickness to depression, and the cost of tuition is another one of these problems for some. Fernandez said the best thing she can do is to remain positive.

“The best case scenario would be for me to graduate and find a good enough job to pay back all my debt and still have enough money to live comfortably,” Fernandez said. “I just have to keep my eyes on the prize.”

Davis shows perseverance pays

Andre Davis, former University of South Florida wide receiver (2011-14), currently holds 13 football program records, including career receptions, single game receptions and career receiving touchdowns.

“I feel like I play a nice little part in USF history, being that I came in to USF and broke a few records.” he said.

As arguably the best receiver in USF program history, the “Freakshow” says it’s “a blessing” to hold these top spots, but more importantly to be a part of USF’s legacy.

“Just being able for players from the future to be able to come in and see my face on plaques is something that you dream of.” he said.

Though the former team captain has graduated and moved on from playing for the Bulls, he’s still active with the current team. He frequently attends practices, attends home games on the sidelines  and mentors current players, hoping to positively impact “future USF history makers.”

“I look at all the players and the younger guys up under me as little brothers. I tell them to be leaders and that even though there may be hard times, you have to fight through them.” he said.

Specifically, Davis mentors current USF safety Nate Godwin, as both classify themselves “Bay Made, Bay Stayed” after growing up in Tampa Bay and staying in the area for college.

“Me and Dre are very close. He just shows me how to handle success and be humble.” Godwin said. “He leads by example. He’s a legend in my books, and he’s a legend in their books. He’s one of the guys I know they’re definitely going to remember.” Godwin said.

When asked about the legacy he left as a Bull, Davis didn’t talk about his records, game-winning touchdowns, or making it in the USF history books.

“It’s more than that.” Davis said. “The legacy that I left here at USF is definitely being a leader, a hard worker, and a guy that persevered through a lot of things. That’s it.”

Since his days as a Bull, Davis had a short stint with the Buffalo Bills, and is currently a NFL free agent.