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Michigan Future, Inc. points out that tuition has gone up because state has cut funding

by: Eric B.

Tue Jun 10, 2014 at 13:00:00 PM EDT

Michigan Future, Inc., one of those outfits for the Very Serious Persons crowd, has a pretty good blog post today about why tuition is rising at our colleges and universities. I'll give you a hint as to the reason? Our ongoing experiment in the Dunning-Kruger effect is involved.

What the Governor didn’t say is that the major reason tuition has gone up is state budget cuts. And that the single best lever to lower tuition is for the state to reverse about a billion dollars in higher education funding cuts over the last decade. These cuts were implemented on a bi-partisan basis. Elected officials of both parties have been great at complaining about rising tuition, at the same time they have been slashing higher education funding.

Yup. It's also a decades-long thing that was only accelerated in the last decade. Why?

But he like Governor Granholm before him, as we explored previously, pursued higher education funding cuts, in large part to fund tax cuts. A record 15% higher education cut in his first year in office. The inevitable result: tuition went up.

The governor's response to this was basically the same as McDonald's response to employees who have a hard time making ends meet on their shit wages: Eat smaller portions and sell back your Christmas presents.

I do have to take issue with this...

... And we need to portray it accurately: it is a good––probably the best––long term investment. The data are clear: rather than a crushing burden and/or an unfair cost imposed on college students, paying higher tuition, even with students loans, are a good investment that leads to much higher future earnings. 

He's right ... we do need to portray this accurately. Higher education is a great investment. We should have more respect for what an education is than to simply tie it to earnings, but it does leave you better situated to compete in the marketplace of jobs because employers gravitate to candidates with more education.

But, we're not being truthful if we pretend that in the short term that it's not creating a crushing burden on people who take on debt to get a diploma. The other day, Bridge Magazine published a "Get off my lawn" column from John Schneider because John Schneider is tired of listening to millenials talk about college debt. Shortly after I put it into my Facebook feed, a friend of mine who did everything John Schneider ordered millenials to do pointed out that even after living at home to attend a community college, she still has $40 grand in debt ... and she's working in her degree field. I've got another friend who is in grad school and earlier this spring asked if I knew about garage sales so she can sell, rather than donate, her old clothes so she can pay some of her bills.

These aren't just singular anecdotes. A lot of students work for my employer, and most of them work full time -- either a full-time job or a couple of part-time ones -- while attending school full time, and still taking on loans to pay for their degree.

So, it's a great investment, but it's one that the funding mechanism for which was broken because everyone lacked the courage last decade to admit that cutting taxes a bunch turned out to be a bad idea. Unfortunately, inside the bubble that is Lansing (rather than in the real world), that's still the drift of policy.

Eric B. :: Michigan Future, Inc. points out that tuition has gone up because state has cut funding
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