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Study says rising tuition the fault of disinvestment by the state

by: Eric B.

Sun Dec 08, 2013 at 13:53:34 PM EST


Over the years, it's been pointed out hereabouts that way back in the 70s, the state paid about three-quarters of a typical public university student's cost of education. This was more, by the way, than the 100 percent paid in parts of the country until Ronald Reagan got fed up with leftists on college campuses and ended that, because we won't be having anyone develop the ability to critical think and come to independent conclusions on the state's dime, thank you very much. Anyway, in the 70s, the Legislature started shaving away at that, to the point where a couple of years ago, the relationship between state and student and education had completely reversed ... students now pay 75 percent of the cost of their education.

Conservatives have reacted to that, and the predictable rise in student debt, by blaming students and society at large for encouraging them to get an education. The world needs ditch diggers, too, sunshines. Along the way, Fried Chicken Frank told everyone that he's the kind of success someone can attain without a college degree (nevermind that the state's resident local oaf started his career at a time when most people didn't go to college). What they refused to say was a bad thing was the Legislature accelerating the state's disinvestment from its public universities, and said that if it was at all bad it was because greedy professors demanded better wages and benefits (wages and benefits, say, commensurate with what they might get in the private sector).

There's a new study out that says that rising tuition is really the fault of cuts to higher education, a ratification of something we already knew but handy to pull out.

If state government funding to universities had increased at the level of consumer inflation every year since 2001, state aid in the 2014 fiscal year — the current 2013-14 academic year — would be $9,192 per student. Instead, it’s $4,496. If tuition increases had been kept at consumer inflation levels over the same period, annual tuition costs would be, on average, $8,556 per student. But instead, they’re $15,891.

Here I direct your attention to an aspirant to our ongoing experiment in the Dunning-Kruger effect, Donijo Robbins DeJonge, who says maybe the state should spend even less because it forces universities to innovate. This is the same person who abruptly quit her comptroller's post after voters in Grand Rapids rejected her attempt to make hers an appointment for life rather than an elected job.

The report doesn't spare the universities, mind you. Depending on which numbers you use, 60 or 80 percent of that is the fault of cuts from the state. That leaves either 40 or 20 percent as the fault of the universities.

Where does most of that money go? Unless you're the absolute biggest and most successful athletics programs, that's part of where it goes. For instance, CMU just gave a raise to its athletics director. Dude takes home $250,000 a year now, not counting his benefits. The university also just entered into an arrangement with Marriott to build and operate a hotel connected to the football stadium. Now, the university swears it won't have to spend any money as a result of this, and will instead see the hotel go on the city's tax rolls (since the land is being leased, I'm not sure how that happens, since the state would technically still own the land, but those are beside the point to all this). The bigger point is that at CMU's last home football game, crowd estimates were about $8,000 and were probably significantly lower than that and probably a good many of those people didn't actually purchase a ticket. Instead, the game was paid for through tuition and state aid.

The state's universities have done a pretty good job of addessing a major fixed cost, which is energy. They've aggressively pursued energy efficiency, which has mitigated costs, but athletics and administrative costs continue to rise. The fault for that rests not with the faculty, who are increasingly asked to make due with less (this is across-the-board at the state's universities ... Western's history department just sent a letter -- ignored for no good reason -- asking for an investigation into the conduct of the provost. The fault rests with the administration who work up budgets, and of the boards of trustees, who are supposed to provide oversight.

Eric B. :: Study says rising tuition the fault of disinvestment by the state
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For comparison purposes... (0.00 / 0)
In 1974, tuition and fees for a full time student at Michigan Tech were $570 per year. Room and board was another $1500 or so. Minimum wage was somewhere around $3 per hour. Working one's way through school without loans was not only possible, people actually did it.


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