Many adults can remember a time when they could easily work their way through college with a decent summer job. Student loans were available to make up for any shortfall, and they came with generous grants. Unfortunately, significant changes have taken place over the last decade. Tuition fees have risen dramatically, out-pacing inflation, as government funding has drastically been cut back. The cost of a typical university education now includes new fees that have been implemented through the school board and placed in student's laps with no escape in sight.
It's obvious that earning a degree is a pricey decision for students everywhere, but in the grand scheme of things, the benefits of that decision will carry them through the rest of their lives. Every year, millions of students attend colleges and non degree institutions around the nation, yet there are always millions more who do not. Why is that? It is because there is a major problem in this country when it comes to higher education. One large contributing factor to this issue is the complete lack of funding available from the government and state institutions; students simply cannot afford to attend by themselves. In the year 2007, only 39% of our nation's 18 to 24 year olds were enrolled (both full and part time) in a college institution, and with the rising tuition costs and cuts in state education budgets, that percentage will likely decline (“Bureau of Labor Statistics”).
In order to make schooling possible to the huge melting pot of incoming and prospective students, there has to be various types of financial aid available for those who are in need of it. However, our state government and Arizona State University have decided to cut the amount of aid per student immensely compared to past years. This only means goodbye to a college education for many along with less revenue for the university. Public colleges often blame their tuition increases on state lawmakers, stating that the state is not providing them with enough money to keep up with inflation and rising costs. However, in nearly half of the state universities around the country, tuitions rose by 5% or more: substantially faster than inflation (“Big Picture”). This has been a common trend with universities since the 1950's. Additionally, in 2009, ASU increased their tuition by 9.8% from the previous year, the largest increase they've had since 2004. In the 2008-2009 school year, the national tuition rate rose 6.5%; at that same time ASU's tuition rose 10.9%, mainly because of the declining economy (Mistero). Though it seems the universities forget that this bad economy did not only hit them…it hit everyone. These raising rates are only kicking students and their families while they're down.
Many are opposed to this idea of increased tuition and believe that it should stay stagnant for the time being if not delcine. One student mentioned, “If you‘re offering the same education for a higher price year after year, then where is the money going?” (Patton). Keep in mind this is merely tuition rates, not even the full price students have to pay annually to attend school. Many grant and scholarship prices are being frozen, and are only being used for those students with the greatest, dire financial needs (Mistero). The money that was taken away by the state budget cuts are what provided grants, financial aid, and any other much needed assistance to students looking to receive a college education. Now, thousands are left unassisted and without answers.
If tuition must be raised, the university should invest that money into educational costs rather than in their own shortage of money. Student's tuition money should not be diverted to the legislature quite frankly because it's completely deceptive. Students are paying these high prices to pay for an education (i.e. classes, professors, labs, libraries, to keep buildings, rooms, and dorms in good repair, and to help fund an adequate financial aid program). For no reason should this money be used to fill in holes in the budget.
If Arizona State University were to simply decrease tuition, more prospective students would want to attend the school - which would in turn increase the school's revenue because many more would enroll in the university. It is incredibly appealing and desirable when a large, well known, and accredited school offers an education for an affordable price, especially in today's economy. Another solution would be to offer more merit-based scholarships with (or even without) a decreased tuition at ASU. With a merit based scholarship, the “free money” students receive depends on how well the student applies themselves in their schooling. It causes them to really want to keep good grades because there is a great reward. The university's current standings would improve and so would students' moral. It's a win-win situation.
Lastly, in the framing of the tuition issue, students are being asked to consider their tuition dollars as an investment; the study by the economics department makes it apparent that this is a particularly good investment (Patton). Yet good investments are not considered “good investments” simply because of the return they yield, but also in terms of the way their debt is handled over the course of that investment. Because investment in education is not an immediate or guaranteed return, being that it must be tied with several other factors such as job placement, years of work, the stability of the economy, etc., what efforts are the University working on to educate students on how to handle their debt and how to make the most of their investment once they graduate? If tuition stays at this increasing rate, ASU should at least make some effort into education students about how to handle their debt, money, spending, as well as teaching them how to save wisely and invest. In this sense, if they must charge each student more for this upcoming school year, why not offer more in the education system to show for it? It pertains particularly to tuition rates, and money management is also something not always so widely-known but could be of great benefit to almost anybody.
If tuition rates at ASU do decrease however, where will all the extra money they find necessary to run this institution come from? The money that ASU is looking for may have to be pulled from other departments or funding, but the yielding profits would outweigh the costs. There is a large chance that ASU is currently spending portions of their income in areas that they don't need to be spending it on: such as “improvements” or “enhancements” to things around campus or perhaps things like stadiums or other showy venues. This past year, ASU spend roughly $350 million on building a brand new Honors College on campus/community (Mistero). Instead, ASU could have put student's tuition dollars to better use by enriching the students' education through offering better courses or training/hiring professors in areas and subjects that are not living up to their full potential.
The only way rising cost of tuition will reverse quickly is if students take part and do it themselves. One University Association President commented, “Today, very few government officials will do anything without pressure, which makes it is clear that appropriately funding higher education will not be a main concern unless every student makes it their own priority” (Burseth). Students need to take part in the campaign to lower tuition. They need to go to our representatives and make sure they represent themselves well. The ongoing trend of exponentially increasing tuition is clearly unacceptable and they must let it be known.
Burseth, Jay. "Lower Tuition? The Power is Yours." TheUWMPost.com. Copressed Managed Hosting, 22 Feb 2010. Web. 10 Mar 2010. <http://www.uwmpost.com/2010/02/22/lower-tuition-the-power-is-yours/>.
"College Enrollment and Work Activity of 2008 High School Graduates." Bureau of Labor Statistics. US Department of Labor, 28 Apr 2009. Web. 10 Mar 2010. <http://www.bls.gov/news.release/hsgec.nr0.htm>.
Mistero, Melissa. "Possible tuition increase worries Arizona students." UPIU Online EducationCenter. UPIU, 03 Mar 2010. Web. 10 Mar 2010. <http://upiu.com/articles/possible-tuition-increase-worries-arizona-students>.
Patton, Kyle. "State, university officials considering new tuition increase." statepress.com.
Arizona State University, 20 Jan 2010. Web. 10 Mar 2010. <http://www.statepress.com/archive/node/10015>.
"Tuition Rising Faster than Inflation." The Big Picture. TypePad, 19 Oct 2005. Web. 10 Mar 2010. <http://bigpicture.typepad.com/comments/2005/10/tuition_rising_.html>.