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Higher Education Costs Create Financial Burdens

De Anza College's value spares some the increased cost of education that leave some students and parents in a financial bind.

The poor economy and the ever-increasing cost of education leave some students and parents with nightmares about how to cope with the high price tag associated with attending college, forcing some to cut back, or cut out.

Cupertino's De Anza College is a more affordable option for students, which leads some students to start college careers there before transferring to four-year universities. The cost of supplies, fees and textbooks combined are $2,075 at De Anza—about one-fifth the cost of attending University of California.

According to the University of California’s website, UC regents voted in November to approve an 8 percent fee increase. This increased annual student fees by $822, bringing undergraduate costs to $11,124 for the academic year—not including housing.

Although De Anza is easier on the pocketbook, it still comes at a cost that some students can't afford without sacrificing, or having to work to afford an education. Still, the need for a higher education is recognized as a necessity to get ahead.

Brittany Sims, 21, a third-year journalism major at De Anza, had high hopes of attending Delaware State University, but the $40,000 debt that came along with going to school there was too much for her to bear.

Although De Anza College is cheaper for her to attend, Sims plans to transfer to San Jose State University, along with supporting her 8-month-old infant at the same time.

“The cost of education is not affecting me now, but when I get my career job after I get my master’s degree, I will have major debt already,” Sims said.

Some students tried to compensate for the high cost of education by working more hours at a job than they would usually work.

First-year nursing major Kalley Phillips, 18, works nearly full time at a bakery to pay her fees at De Anza College. In high school, her parents would pay for her gas, school supplies and lunch, but now, the financial burden is on her.

“My parents haven’t been able to support me as much as they hoped,” Phillips said. “Thus, they encouraged me to go to a community college as opposed to a Christian private school that has a great nursing program.”

Other students have been forced to cut the things they love to pay for school.

Anthony Nguyen, 23, a third-year journalism major at De Anza college, cut down on one of his biggest loves so he could afford his student fees.

“I will save up by cutting back on buying video games, at first,” Nguyen said. “When I transfer, I have no idea what I am going to do.”

The record-high cost of attending UCLA forced 22-year-old Milagro—who requested for safety concerns that his full name not be used—a fifth-year English major, to postpone his education for the majority of the 2010-11 school year. Homeless and sleeping at friends’ apartments at Stanford University, he is doing the best he can working multiple jobs in Palo Alto so he can support himself and his family.

“After my third year in college, I spent 16 out of 20 months homeless,” Milagro said. “I took a quarter off to support my twin brother, and I worked a minimum of five jobs, totaling 30 hours per week.”

Milagro’s brother attends Stanford, and his parents are in dire straits financially.

“The high cost of education was the leading cause for my parents to declare bankruptcy,” Milagro said. “There was a discrepancy between the rising cost of education and my parents’ ability to contribute to me and my brother.”

So parents, too, have also been forced to make sacrifices to pay for their children’s education.

San Carlos homemaker Janette Strobeck, 56, a regular customer at Peet’s Coffee in Cupertino, said she worries about her daughter’s education expenses and the impact it will have on her and her husband in the future. Kristi, her only daughter, is a senior at Summit Preparatory Charter High School.

“My daughter’s education costs delay our retirement plans, due to having to pay those student loans,” Strobeck said. “It makes us more concerned about what’s going to happen once the education ends.”

Like Nguyen, Strobeck is forced to cut corners to pay for her daughter’s education.

“Our family has to make sacrifices,” Strobeck said. “My daughter stopped doing kickboxing, which she loved, just so we can make it.”

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