Balance necessary with cost, quality of education
Published: Sunday, February 5, 2012
Updated: Monday, February 6, 2012 11:02
According to the College Board, the average in-state tuition at four-year public colleges this school year rose 8.3 percent. These rising tuition costs are making it increasingly hard for students to achieve the "American Dream," or even attend the school of their choice.
To start, keeping tuition affordable is no easy feat for any college or university to accomplish. Universities want to give students the best experience possible. For example, universities want their science, technology, engineering and mathematics students to learn how to use some of the most advanced equipment for their future careers. They also want their students to have the most resources available for them to use.
It's extremely difficult to maintain the balance between keeping tuition affordable and giving students the best quality education. Sometimes the scales place more emphasis on bettering the university than keeping tuition rates affordable and consistent, which results in rising tuition costs. Universities hope to attract prospective students because of everything that they provide — but it's possible that prospective students won't be able to afford attending certain schools because of the high tuition that goes to retaining those resources.
In his State of the Union address last month, President Barack Obama chose to stand with students and introduced new plans to fight the rising costs of college tuition.
These plans tackle the problem of rising tuition in quite a few ways. First of all, Obama proposed to reform federal campus-based aid programs by prioritizing aid to colleges and universities that attempt to keep tuition low while maintaining the quality and integrity of their degree programs. The president also plans to implement a new program called "First in the World," which will support universities and non-profit organizations as they attempt to find "the next breakthrough strategy that will boost higher education attainment and student outcomes," according to a White House press release. Obama also wants to create a "College Scorecard" for all colleges and universities to see which institution has the best value for each student and their families. Lastly, the president proposed that Congress keep interest rates low for student-loan borrowers, make the American Opportunity Tax Credit permanent and double the amount of work study programs over the next five years.
Some are hesitant to support these plans. Sandy Baum, a higher-education policy analyst, said that "the amount of money at stake [$10 billion for campus-based aid] is not enough to change states' budget priorities," according to the Chronicle of Higher Education. Al Bowman, Illinois State's president, said that the undergraduate experience can be made cheaper, but there are trade-offs which he is not willing to make, according to USA Today.
Again, the balance between giving students the best and keeping their tuition affordable is tough for colleges and universities. However, I think that universities need to think about their students' present and future finances when considering these decisions, because how do abundant resources contribute to students' college experience if they can't afford them?
I commend Obama for standing beside students in the fight against rising tuition costs.
Rising college tuition affects our decision to go to college and better ourselves for our future. Students are the future of this country, and the government and universities need to work together toward creating the best possible balance for the future of their students and their finances.