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

DRC Tries Mega-Farms to Feed Population

Park at Boukanga Lonzo currently has 5,000 hectares under cultivation, crops stretching as far as eye can see, and is start of ambitious large-scale agriculture plan More

Video Survivor Video Testimonies Recount Horrors of Guatemalan Genocide

During a conflict that spanned more than three decades, tens of thousands of indigenous Mayans were killed More

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Areas are spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, source of livelihood for fishermen and herders who have called the marshes home for generations 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.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs

New in Music Alley

Border Crossings: Nnekai
|| 0:00:00
...  
🔇
X
August 26, 2015 2:42 PM
Nigerian singer, songwriter Nneka sits down with Border Crossings host Larry London to perform songs from her latest CD, "My Fairy Tales" and to talk about her inspirations and influences.

Nigerian singer, songwriter Nneka sits down with Border Crossings host Larry London to perform songs from her latest CD, "My Fairy Tales" and to talk about her inspirations and influences.