News / Arts & Entertainment

'Ivory Tower' Explores Crushing Cost of US College Education

Film Explores Crushing Cost of US College Educationi
X
Penelope Poulou
July 16, 2014 8:33 PM
Twenty years ago, many American families were able to navigate financially through the uncharted waters of paying for a college education. But since then, college expenses have risen exponentially, drowning many students in debt, which is the subject of Andrew Rossi’s documentary "Ivory Tower". More from VOA's Penelope Poulou.
Penelope Poulou

It’s a hot, muggy day at Port City Brewery in Old Town Alexandria, just a stone’s throw from Washington D.C., but the heat does not slow down Brandon Attilis, a college student who spends summers working for extra cash.  

The money will come in handy when he is away at college renting a house with two of his friends. 

“My parents are paying the cost of the house, but I’m paying utilities," Brandon said. "So, between the two, it’s still less expensive than actually living in the dorms.”

Brandon has a lot going for him. He has a good work ethic, brains and pre-paid college tuition.  
 
“We took care of four years of college education for less than a year’s costs in today’s market,” said Chris Attilis, Brandon's mother.

She says she and her husband began saving money for college tuition shortly after each of their children was born. But most college students today are not as lucky.

Andrew Rossi’s new documentary, Ivory Tower, shows American college students drowning in debt. 

“We see that college tuition has increased by about 1,100 percent since 1978 to today," Rossi said. 

That's due to many factors, including less government support for higher education because of tighter budgets. Once students graduate, Rossi says half are either unemployed or underemployed.  His documentary shows that the tough job market does not deter colleges from hiking tuition fees. 

"There are certainly those who can argue that certain Ivy league schools have a brand associated with them that might be worth paying a premium for," he said.

In their effort to entice students and to raise their prestige, colleges build impressive campuses and students end up paying for those construction costs. 

Chris Attilis experienced this firsthand when she visited campuses with Brandon.  .

“They put on a good show," she said. "And walking through and looking at the granite sinks in the bathrooms I’m thinking, 'This is not what it was looking like when I went to school.' And we had a conversation saying ‘We’re paying to send you to a country club.’" 

According to Ivory Tower, many students choose not to pursue a college education because of the unsustainable costs. Some try online education, but Brandon notes that is not for everyone.

“You have to be a real hard worker, you have to really want it," he said.  

Brandon is thankful he is getting an education without going into debt. He feels life is already like an assembly line, where he has to tackle everything coming his way - getting a business degree, building up job experience to have an impressive resume so that one day, he hopes, he can have a career and a family without the staggering debt from the ivory towers of higher education. 

You May Like

Mood Tense Ahead of Scotland Independence Vote

As race to persuade undecided voters continues, 'No' voters say they believe life in Scotland will slowly improve, 'Yes' vote not worth the risk More

South Africa’s 'Open Mosque' Admits Everyone, Including Critics

Open Mosque founder plans to welcome gay worshipers and allow women to lead prayers More

Ukrainian Activist in Despair About Future of Her Country

IrIna Dovgan, accused of being a spy and tortured by pro-Russian separatists, is appealing to UN Human Rights Council to support her country More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Wateri
X
September 17, 2014 8:44 PM
Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.
Video

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

China says its has sentenced three men to death and one woman to life in prison for a deadly knife attack in March that left more than 30 dead and 140 injured. Beijing says Muslim militants from China's restive western region of Xinjiang carried out the attacks. Now, more than six months after the incident, residents in the city are still coping with the aftermath. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Kunming.
Video

Video Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Community

Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid

New in Music Alley

Border Crossings

Graham Nash has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame twice – once for his work with The Hollies and once as part of Crosby, Stills & Nash. The legendary folk-rocker joins "Border Crossings" host Larry London to talk about his latest project, “CSN 2012,” which captured on video recent live performances by Crosby, Stills & Nash.