DURANT, OK-- Joseph Badan works in the administration office at Southeastern Oklahoma State University. He pays for his own cell phone, insurance, plus his own college tuition.
"School is mostly financial aid, I fill out my FAFSA and get federal and state aid, I have scholarships that I get for the honor's program, I get a scholarship for that. You know, besides working and occasionally borrowing from my parents, I get by," Badan explained.
According to a survey by Sallie Mae, the country's largest student lender, 83% of college students and parents strongly agree that higher education is an investment in the future. But students are paying 30% more of the total bill and parents are paying for 45% less, than four years ago.
The SOSU financial aid office says 84% of their students are on some sort of financial aid.
"We did over a 11 million dollars in student loans last year for both undergraduate and graduate students. We also awarded about 3 million in state aid," said, Liz McCraw, Dean of Enrollment Management.
Tuition and fees at SOSU run about $2,000 a semester and roughly $5,000 for those who live on campus. That's a determining factor for students choosing a college.
"I think what we see is that students are making different choices on where they attend based on proximity to home, the cost is one of the number one determining factors of where they go and how you put together their aid and their package is more important and they are making decisions there," McCraw explained.
Even though Badan said it's tough making ends meet, he said it's worth the education.
"You get so many more opportunities for jobs and careers that make a lot of money and eventually you just pay it back."