Evidence shows the overwhelming college costs at public universities are finally starting to calm down after growing out of control during the recession, but they’re moving at too slow of a pace.
State cuts to higher education have finally run their course and some states have even started to restore funding that they cut in recent years. That being said, the problem is far from being resolved.
Tuition to public higher-education institutions only rose back up 1.2 percent in the last year and a new report released earlier this week (on Wednesday) by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP), reveals that all states except Alaska, North Dakota, and Wyoming (47 in total) are spending 20 percent ($1,805) less per student in the 2014-2015 year than they ever did before the 2008 recession.
Michael Mitchell, a policy analyst at CBPP and an author of the report, gave a statement stressing the poor choices that have been made in recent years: “For the past couple of years, states by-and-large have been reinvesting in higher education, and we’re still 20 percent below what we were spending before the recession. It gives you perspective on the magnitude of cuts that were taking place”.
All of these factors are causing tuition costs to rise at public colleges and universities throughout the US, so that they can compensate for declining state funding. This is turn is a choice that’s very effective at putting college affordability out of reach. Young adults across the country are finding it hard to afford a higher education unless they come from wealthy families, and those from particularly poor families can’t even afford to think of getting one.
CBPP expressed concern over the current state of affairs. It does not only affect how many youngster get to have a college education, but it also affects the quality of the education offered to those who can still afford it.
Even more alarming, experts suggest this is a deliberate strategy to demote, merge, or close senior schools, in order to raise tuition levels even higher in the remaining ones, and to reshape incentives so as to prevent inefficient expenditures.
Average annual tuition at four-year public colleges has already increased nationally by 29 percent ($2,068) since the 2007-2008 school year.
Arizona has seen the most dramatic change as they have cut their spending by more than 47 percent per student since 2008, and increased tuition by roughly 84 percent ($4,734) per student.
The complete list of states that wildly increased tuition includes Hawaii (70 percent increase), Georgia (69.5 percent), Louisiana (67.2 percent), Florida (64.2 percent) and California (62.2 percent).
Mitchell pointed out that while most of these states are using their funds to start reinvesting in higher education, the trend isn’t universal. 13 of the country’s states cut funding again last year, and in 3 of them (Kentucky, West Virginia, Oklahoma) it was for the second year in a row.
Public education funded by student tuition has increased from between 30 and 40 percent about a decade ago, to between 50 and 60 percent today.
There is a small glimmer of hope as many of our public colleges and universities have actively avoided any significant tuition increases for the second year in a row.
Donna Desrochers, a principal researcher at the Delta Cost Project at American Institutes for Research, said that colleges and universities shouldn’t be demonized as they have been struggling since the recession, trying to find ways to become more lean and efficient, but without additional state funding it’s nearly impossible to hold tuition down.
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