Juggling college costs and the economy

NACOGDOCHES, TEXAS (KTRE) - Paul and Tommie Deaton are heading back to their farm in Timpson with less cash in the bank. The retired couple just left SFA's account window where they paid their grandson's spring tuition. "It was 4800 and some dollars," said Paul Deaton. His wife, Tommie wrote the check. She chimes in, "It was almost $5,000." When asked if its tough to handle they both say, "Very tough."

The Deatons consider it an investment for Cody Still's future. The 18 year old is keeping to a routine shared by many families handling college costs. "Go to work. Go to school. Study at night. And then do it all over again,"  said the forestry student, who also has a knack with mechanics. That's always been the life of many college students, but today there are some forced to sacrifice even more. They're placing the pursuit for a college education on hold. Cody knows them. "I have about five friends, exactly. They've already gone back home and started working to pass the time until it (economy) does come back up."

Now there's talk of a college tuition freeze, an idea the Deaton's like. "It all adds up and the total is almost insurmountable when you're just talking about working people," said Paul Deaton.

Some higher education leaders, including Danny Gallant, SFA's Vice President of Finance and Administration are wondering what a freeze could do to university budgets.   "Because at this point in the legislative session there are no funding sources that have been identified from the legislature," explained Gallant. SFA is not raising tuition, but a proposed two year moratorium could affect future budgets.

It's still too early in the legislative session to know what will happen. Some students may turn to financial aid for the first time. Cody plans to stick to his routine and remain grateful to his grandparents. "I just love 'em a lot and I appreciate everything they've done for me," he said before returning to his auto parts job. And that gratitude makes writing the check a bit more tolerable for the Deatons as they headed home in a late model car. Deaton quips, "We could afford better, but right now this will do just fine."