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It’s a hard economic situation for everyone at the moment. With less money and the rise of unemployment, everyone across the board is feeling the crunch.
It’s a necessary evil sometimes to raise prices, with the rising oil prices and other factors, but a few price hikes are too alarming to go without notice; one is public university tuition.
It’s not a stretch to say that anyone wishing to have a high-paying career must have a college degree. But over the last 20 years, tuition hikes have been so much that students going into debt before they even have careers has become the norm in the country.
Not only have students for the past few years been graduating to economic turmoil and high unemployment rates, they’ve been graduating with large debts hanging over their heads.
While many college students and their families have been questioning these high tuition prices for years, it seems Indiana lawmakers are finally jumping on the bandwagon. State Budget Committee Chairman Jeff Espich is telling public universities they need to explain their high tuitions. According to an article appearing in Business Week Sept. 8, state budget leaders are complaining about tuition prices, stating tuition at an Indiana public university jumped to an average of 12 percent of Hoosiers’ incomes in 2000 and they expect it will account for 19 percent of average income by 2013.
Universities like Indiana University are firing back they are doing what is needed since state aid to public colleges has been dropping significantly, but budget leaders said they believe university boards are spending beyond their means and making their students pay for it.
The state’s Commission for Higher Education advised public universities to limit tuition hikes to between 2.5 and 3.5 percent for the next two years, the Business Week article stated, but legislators decided not to required the schools to set the limits the commission recommended. Without the limit, Indiana University was able to set a tuition and fees hike of at least 5.5 percent tuition hike for its students.
It’s easy to relate to the universities; they aren’t getting the funding they used to, as so many other areas of the state budget aren’t. But this shouldn’t mean that students have to suffer. Universities can build more buildings, add more programs and professors, but what is the point if students cannot enroll because they cannot afford or want to go into debt?
We agree there should be more accountability for such steep raises and we would hope the current hearings between lawmakers and universities bring about some new, creative solutions. Tuition will have to go up, that is understandable, but there shouldn’t be a need for it to go up so much.
Lawmakers and universities should strive to make secondary education easier to obtain for Hoosiers. The choice should be “Which university do I want to attend?” and shouldn’t be “Should I go into high debt or not?” If a solution is not found, it could mean higher and higher debt for graduating students or maybe even a decline in young adults deciding to improve their education.
It will take both sides of the issue – state government and public universities – to work together for the future of secondary education in Indiana. We hope that efforts will make sure higher education can be for everyone, not just the privileged.
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