By: Zahira Vázquez
Going to college is a big decision for many young adults in our Puerto Rican society. It may be the biggest one they will have to make in their entire lives. It’s the one that may have a huge impact on how their life will be from then on out, but the question is, can you afford a college education?
Puerto Rico has been going through an economic crisis for a few years now. Money has been an issue in many households. How will families put their children through college without a stable income? Many students will qualify for federal scholarships but for most this just won’t be enough.
“I don’t think I’ll be able to pay for my son’s college education, that’s why I’m encouraging him to get good grades now so that he will be eligible to receive a scholarship,” says parent, Marcos.
There are many different universities to choose from, but the first decision to make is deciding between a public university and a private one. A public one is usually more affordable. The only public institution is the University of Puerto Rico, which has eleven campuses throughout the country, Rio Piedras and Mayagüez being the largest ones.
The student center is a popular hangout place for students at the University of Puerto Rico-Mayagüez.
The University of Puerto Rico-Mayagüez (UPRM) is located on the west coast of Puerto Rico and was established in 1911. This institution is one of the most prestigious universities on the island, even though it is a public university. Everyone wants a chance to get in. Tuition costs at UPRM are relatively low compared to other universities. The cost of each credit is 47 dollars, as published on the university’s website. The average student takes around 15 credits per semester; in this case the total cost of tuition, not including other fees such as technology, laboratories, etc will approximate around 705 dollars.
Many students enjoy the calm environment and easy to find classrooms at the Catholic University of Mayagüez
The closest private university to UPRM is the Catholic University of Puerto Rico which is also located in Mayagüez. This institution is well recognized for its calm environment and small campus .The credit at this particular university is 165 dollars. This information is available on the campus website. If a student were to take 15 credits, the total cost of tuition would approximate around 2,475 dollars.
Tuition isn’t the only thing you’ll have to pay. Transportation or lodging is another aspect you will have to analyze too. If you already live in the west coast of Puerto Rico, it’ll be easier to stay living with your parents; you will
only have to worry about gas money and maybe even buy a used car if your parents can’t lend you theirs or you just want one of your own. The cost of lodging in Mayagüez depends on where you go and how far away from the campus you are. Most students usually find an apartment with roommates to split the rent between two or three.
“I rented my first apartment with one of my best friends and we started paying 250 dollars each to pay the 500 dollar monthly rent, but then we met two other girls that were looking for a place to live too, so now we each pay 125 dollars. We save a lot of money by sharing an apartment,” stated Katy Torres, a student from the University of Puerto Rico-Mayagüez.
Whether you decide to live on or off campus, many other costs will add on to the final budget. Books are another key element in every college student’s life and takes up a good chunk of money. Prices on textbooks can be extremely high; ranging from ten dollars to up to 200 dollars. Many students opt for used books or borrowed ones to save on some extra cash. They can mostly find these online or around campus. For those who like to buy their books new, in Mayagüez there are a couple of bookstores where college students go, including the Libreria Universal, Inc, Libreria El Quijote, Borders and the Libreria Colegial, etc.
“I usually buy my books online because I save money. I used to spend hundreds of dollars on books that we barely read,” stated Wilson, a student from the Catholic University of Mayagüez.
Many students turn to fast food everyday because they do not make time to prepare their meals.
Eating healthy is another aspect to worry about. Many college students tend to go for fast food every day because of time. Eating out every day can make a huge difference in your budget. You’ll spend tons of money on unhealthy food. If you make your own groceries and prepare healthy meals; you’ll save money, time and stay healthy to have the energy you will need to study hard.
Getting a college education has its costs and may seem very expensive, but on the long run you’ll realize it was all worth it. Every penny spent on college will guarantee you a bright future. Start ahead of time with a college fund so that way you can get the most out of your college experience without having to stress on how to pay for it.