Magazine article ASEE Prism

Tuition Bills Surge at Public Universities

Magazine article ASEE Prism

Tuition Bills Surge at Public Universities

Article excerpt

Prosperity may reign across the width and breadth of the United States, but not all states are reaping its rewards. Many states that rely on sales taxes rather than income taxes for revenue, or those that have not fully benefited from the New Economy, are facing revenue crunches. As a result, some state universities are passing along hefty tuition increases after a decade of stability.

To further underscore the dichotomy, some stateslike California and Virginia, which have clearly ridden the crest of the high-tech wave-are freezing and even rolling back tuitions. "There is a really wide range this year," says Travis J. Reindl, policy analyst at the American Association of State Colleges and Universities.

Tennessee is a classic example. It has no income tax, but its sales tax revenues have been hit by changes in the economy. As more and more commerce moves online, it enters a tax-free zone; also, many sales taxes exempt services-not helpful in a service-dominated economy. And states with aging populations are also hit: the elderly are heavy consumers of sales-tax-free goods and big users of state-funded services. Universities make tempting targets in tight-budget times for state lawmakers because their funding isn't mandated and they have outside revenue streams, mainly tuition. …

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