Tuesday, August 31, 2010

A crisis of spiraling tuition

Colleges must volunteer

— or be forced —

to address rising cost

[Does any of this sound familiar? The Morrill Hall Gang at the University of Minnesota needs to look in the mirror. We should not be spending $80 million on the so-called renovation of Northrop Auditorium.]

From the Boston Globe:

By Derrick Z. Jackson Globe Columnist / August 31, 2010

In a speech to the Urban League in July, President Obama bemoaned the nation’s drop from first in the world to 12th in measures of college completion. This situation is “economically indefensible’’ and “morally inexcusable,’’ he said, and “all of us are going to have to roll up our sleeves to change it.’’

Graduation rates aside, the most morally inexcusable aspect of college is the unbridled cost of getting in. It is clear who should be first to roll up their sleeves: college presidents. Obama should declare their tuitions and fees a state of emergency and call a national summit to hold these institutions accountable.

Since 1990, according to the Chronicle of Higher Education, the price of tuition, fees, room, and board at private and public four-year colleges has risen between three and four and a half times the increase in average family income.

For most families, it is impossible to put away enough money to prepare for such a burden. Last week, a Fidelity Investments survey found that 67 percent of parents have begun saving for college, compared with 58 percent in 2007. But the savings is only expected to cover 16 percent of college costs.

Even in the worst economic times since the Great Depression, universities behave with no conscience.

College presidents have plenty of excuses. To hear many tell it, rising tuition is like a Cold War arms race, in which each school must build fancy new structures...

No one has called them on their excuses.

The reasons are complex, but the outcome is simple. Soon, not only the so-called “best’’ colleges but also state schools will be beyond the reach of the middle class.


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