“Go to college and get a degree,” is a common phrase children are constantly are bombarded with by their parents from grade school to the time they're nearly graduating. It's obvious that attending college is a pricey decision, but in the grand scheme of things the returns are much greater than the costs. 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? One factor is the complete lack of funding available to these students; they simply cannot afford it. 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 (“Bureau of Labor Statistics”). With the rising tuition costs and cuts in state education budgets, that percentage will likely decline. In order to make schooling possible to the huge melting pot of incoming students, there must be some type 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. Now why would this ever make sense?
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% (Mistero). Yet this economy didn‘t only hit the biggest universities and corporations; it hit everyone. These raising rates are only kicking students while they're down.
Many are opposed to this idea of increased tuition and believe that it should stay stagnant for the time being. 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 taken 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 the deficit. 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 our state budget.
If Arizona State University were to decrease tuition, more prospective students would want to attend the school - which would in turn increase the school's revenue (which we all know is what they're looking to do). Another solution would be to offer more merit-based scholarships with their decreased tuition. With a merit based scholarship, the “free money” students receive depends on how well the student applies themselves. It causes them to really want to keep good grades. All of which would do nothing but good for the university and its current standings. 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. Yet good investments are not considered such simply because of the return they yield, but also in terms of the management of the debt 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?
Now where will all this extra money 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 also a large chance that ASU is currently spending their money on something 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. Instead, ASU could have put student's tuition dollars to better use by enriching and educating the lives of students in their local community to students from all over the world.
The only way rising cost of tuition will reverse 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.
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 Education Center. 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>.