Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education

The Cost-of-Education Increase: As the Annual Rise in Tuition and Fees at Colleges and Universities Continues, Trustees and Administrators at Public Institutions Blame Inadequate State Funding

Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education

The Cost-of-Education Increase: As the Annual Rise in Tuition and Fees at Colleges and Universities Continues, Trustees and Administrators at Public Institutions Blame Inadequate State Funding

Article excerpt

The Cost-of-Education Increase: As the annual rise in tuition and fees at colleges and universities continues, trustees and administrators at public institutions blame inadequate state funding

WASHINGTON -- Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU) student Lindsay Proffitt headed home this summer with bad news about school. It wasn't her grades; it was her tuition.

"I can't believe it's this expensive to go to college," says Proffitt, 22, an English major with a part-time job at a local clothing store. "It's absolutely insane."

And her anxiety is being felt nationwide.

Pennsylvania residents attending any of the 14 state-owned universities will pay $3,618 in tuition next year -- a $150 increase from this year -- the system's governing board decided last month. The State System of Higher Education says the $15 million increase is needed because of rising personnel costs and because the General Assembly did not give the schools all the money that they sought. The General Assembly gave the universities $438 million for their 1999-2000 operations, compared to $425 million this year. However, the state system had asked for $448 million for next year's budget.

But even if lawmakers had granted the system's full request, there still would have been a tuition increase of $100, system spokesman Kenn Marshall says.

"Cost increases were such that we always assumed a tuition increase -- it was just a matter of how much," he explains.

Administrators of the system had recommended a $190 tuition increase, but a subcommittee of the board reduced it to $150. As a result, according to System Chancellor James McCormick, the 14 universities will have to reduce spending by $5.5 million because of the smaller tuition increase.

Out-of-state students will pay between $5,428 and $9,046 depending on the campus they attend and the program in which they are enrolled. Tuition has been $3,468 for the last two academic years and it increased $100 two years ago. Each campus sets its own room and board rates.

The 14 universities that comprise the Pennsylvania System of Higher Education are Bloomsburg, California, Cheyney, Clarion, East Stroudsburg, Edinboro, Indiana, Kutztown, Lock Haven, Mansfield, Millersville, Shippensburg, Slippery Rock, and West Chester.

At Lincoln University, a state-affiliated but not state-controlled historically Black institution, tuition for in-state, full-time freshmen rose $178 to $3,570. When room and board and the other campus fees are added, freshmen are looking at a $668 increase, bringing the total to $10,638. For out-of-state students, tuition rose $436 to $6,256. When room, board, and fees are added, the cost for out-of-staters rose $945 to $12,585.

The University of Pittsburgh will also raise tuition -- by 4 percent -- at its five campuses for the 1999-2000 school year. Full-time undergraduates from Pennsylvania would see tuition rise $234 to $6,118, pending approval of the budget. Non-Pennsylvanians would see tuition go up $516 to $13,434.

In Virginia, public colleges and universities were expecting to offer their students a 20 percent decrease in their tuition rates this fall. However, that rollback has been offset with increases in fees and room and board costs, according to a State Council of Higher Education report released last month.

The average cost of going to a four-year public college will drop by 4.3 percent, to $8,571 counting room and board, for undergraduate students from Virginia, the report says.

"It is absolutely contradictory to what the governor was trying to do with the rollback," Lila Young, a spokesperson for Gov. Jim Gilmore, said. "His purpose all along was to provide a real savings. It's a shame that that has not turned out to be the case."

But putting the tuition decrease and tee increase in a historical context, council Director William Allen says, "This is a dramatic decline from the mid-1990s. Having a lower price tag makes us more competitive. …

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