The cost of education in the Northland

By KBJR News 1

August 24, 2010 Updated Aug 25, 2010 at 11:58 AM CST

Posted by Boua Xiong

In just a few weeks Amy Jo Hill will start her freshman year at the College of Saint Scholastica. Hill is enrolled in the school's nursing program–This is a big accomplishment for her and her family.

"Not lots of us have gone to school and I wanted to be one of the first to really make something of myself," Hill said.

Just 20 minutes away at the University of Wisconsin–Superior Max Medlin is getting ready to start his freshman year too.

"I found out that their transportation management program was one of the best in the country," Medlin said.

Deciding where to go and how to pay for it wasn't easy. Since the Great Recession of 2008 schools officials said they've seen a change in how students and their families decide where to go–money being one of the biggest deciding factors.

So, where are students in Northland going?

From The University of Minnesota-Duluth to the University of Wisconsin-Superior to the College of St. Scholastica, all three said they will be seeing record numbers of students this year despite tuition hikes.

In state–tuition at Saint Scholasitica is $28,000. UMD is $11,792. UWS is $6,736. Those numbers are expected to go up next year.

While private schools have traditionally been more expensive, public schools are finding themselves competing for students with private ones.

"We see more and more students from Northern Wisconsin being a part of our community, the western suburbs of the Twin Cities–even into southern Wisconsin and both our national and international populations are growing," Joe Wicklund, director of freshman admissions, said.

Wicklund said it's not just the small class sizes people are looking for anymore; it's the financial help they get from schools.

Wicklund said their endowment has been growing as well as alumni donations. This growth allows them to offer more financial aid to their students.

Public schools are working hard to keep up.

"Through our foundation office we offer a number of nice scholarships so we've seen a big increase in the number of people applying for our scholarship which makes it very competitive," Tonya Roth, director of admissions at UWS, said.

Students are worried about the money too; but they are also worried about their education.

"How are you supposed to get ahead if you don't (take on debt)? You're going to be in debt for a little bit but how are you supposed to get ahead if you don't have a degree and get a job–you can pay it off in a couple of years," Hill said.

"Our family is in the process buying and selling a new home and so its interesting times but I think everything is going to work out. Just, do a little loans, and I'll have to pay them back eventually but I guess that's life," Medlin said.

Hill and Medlin said they have scholarships, grants and loans to pay for school. Both are also working and will continue to work during school. Both are hopeful it all pays off at the end of four years.