Saturday, February 3, 2007

The College/University Affordability Issue in ColdState

reports on Pete Wyckoff's testimony at the ColdState legislature.
(Pete is a faculty member at the University of Minnesota Morris)

At the University of Minnesota, Morris, we provide a great undergraduate education. Classes are small, and every class is taught by a professor; we don't have teaching assistants. My primary job is to teach undergraduates, and I love it. I know my students by name. I know their stories. I give them heck if they slack off. If you listen to public radio, I'm sure you have heard our sponsored clip bragging that Morris is one of the top five public liberal arts schools in the nation. The bragging is warranted.

Over the past five years, tuition at the University of Minnesota rose 57%. This rise was not set by our campus, but was a system-wide decision.

Our students at U of M Morris accumulate debt at a greater pace than at the U of M Twin Cities, but graduate with lower average indebtedness because we tend to get them done in 4 years. 2006 graduates left Morris with an average of $22,000 in debts, and ¾ of the students had debt. That last number is higher than the other U of M campuses because our students come from lower income families. Another way to look at the same numbers: for our students who take on debt, the average debt accumulation is almost $30,000.

As much as I worry about the debt incurred by the students who attend Morris, I am more worried about the students who don't even show up. As I mentioned, we serve a lot of first generation college students, and for many in that group, the sticker price keeps them from even applying. We don't even get a chance to try to make it work for them.

I don't feel that Minnesota can afford to let the price of its University slip out of reach for talented students of modest means.

Mr. Bonzo hopes that the drip, drip, drip of arguments by people like Pete will eventually cause some fundamental changes in the public higher education system in ColdState.


No comments: