Superior, WI (Northland's NewsCenter) - This week President Obama laid out a challenge to institutions of higher education to keep tuition in check.
For upper classmen Brent Ystad and Jake Guello, the upward trend of college tuition has been their reality for years.
"It's definitely hard to pay for, I mean I have how many thousands of dollars worth of student loans now," said UWS junior Jake Guello.
The lack of affordability for college is costing the United States on the international level.
"As of just a few years ago, the United states was number one in the world in terms of the percentage of our population that was college graduates. Last year we were ninth and we are falling, we may be fifteenth pretty soon," said Minnesota Senator Al Franken.
"So many students are having a hard time going to college because of high tuition rates and when they get out...they have so much debt they can't really pay it off and people just get farther and farther behind because prices keep getting higher and higher," said UWS senior Brent Ystad.
In his State of the Union Address, President Obama laid it out for colleges around the nation...giving them an ultimatum.
"So let me put colleges and university's on notice: if you can't stop tuition from going up, the funding you get from taxpayers will go down. Higher education can't be a luxury; it is an economic imperative," said President Obama.
With scholarships, grants, and work study all available for students at the University of Wisconsin Superior, officials say they do anything and everything they can before they raise tuition.
But it can't always be avoided; tuition has been raised five and a half percent each of the last 3 years at UWS.
Officials there say they aren't the only school struggling with cuts, but concede that keeping tuition costs in check is something higher education as a whole needs to do better.
"We're all being faced with state cuts, lapses, whatever. We need to do as much as we can to keep those tuition costs low or keep them stable," said Jan Hanson, Vice Chancellor of Administration and Finance.
The University of Minnesota Duluth had a handful of students head to the capitol Friday to join with other students from around the state, advocating for college students all over Minnesota.