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College Budget Cuts Leading to Increased Tuition

Severe budget cuts at many state colleges and universities are compelling officials to seek reforms that could have major financial effects on students and families. Many of the new proposals focus on tuition because state schools do not have the authority to raise tuition. College administrators are seeking to gain that authority, the Christian Science Monitor reports. According to the US Department of Education, almost 75 percent of all college students attend public schools. In a statement to the Monitor, Travis Reindl, director of state policy analysis for the Association of State Colleges and Universities, said, “It’s all boiling down to a single question–how public is public education going to be?”

In Texas, most state schools will have budget cuts of about 12.5 percent, but in a recent proposal, schools that have greater student growth would not see as drastic budgetary cuts. Texas Woman’s University and Sul Ross State University would have some of the biggest funding cuts, losing around 16.8 percent of their budget, according to Abilene Reporter News. The University of Texas System has already presented a plan that would give its campuses freedom to set tuition and fees, the Associated Press reports. Colorado has proposed a voucher system to the legislature that would give public college students about $4,600 a year, but it removes tuition limits. The Colorado Student Association, opposes the new plan because there are no guarantees that the vouchers would continue through poor economic times, and it gives colleges too much flexibility over tuition, AP reports. Patrick Callan, President of the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education, told the Monitor, “Every generation since World War II has left people better educated, and we could roll that back” by raising tuition.

College students in Oklahoma have begun lobbying against a state bill that would remove tuition caps giving universities control over tuition, according to the Oklahoma Daily. “This bill will cause students to cease their education, resulting in an increased level of difficulty,” Richard Beck, chairman of Citizens Opposed to Soaring Tuition (COST) told the Oklahoma Daily. The state Senate will vote on the bill March 20, and if approved, it is expected that Gov. Brad Henry will sign the measure.

Sources:

Associated Press 12/13/02, 2/27/03, 3/19/03; The Christian Science Monitor 3/18/03; Abilene Reporter News 3/13/03; Oklahoma Daily 3/12/03; Dept. of Education

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