US News Who is to blame for rising tuition prices at public colleges?

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  1. tom_mai78101

    tom_mai78101 The Helper Connoisseur / Ex-MineCraft Host Staff Member

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    Complaints about rising college costs are nothing new, but for students and parents calculating the price of college these days, the exercise has become a much more complicated task compared with just a decade ago.

    Tuition at four-year public colleges, which historically had always been well below the sticker price of private colleges, has risen more than 100 percent since 2001, after taking inflation into account. Meanwhile, the discounts offered by private colleges on their prices are now above 50 percent on some campuses, bringing their “net-tuition prices” — that is, what students actually pay — closer to public schools. And the gap between in-state and out-of-state tuition prices charged by public campuses has grown significantly in many states as colleges see out-of-state students as a critical revenue source.

    Then there is the news out of Pennsylvania this past week that a four-month-old state budget impasse might lead the so-called state-related campuses — Pennsylvania State University, Temple University, Lincoln University and the University of Pittsburgh — to eliminate lower tuition prices altogether for in-state students.

    Leaders at those four Pennsylvania schools blame state lawmakers for bringing their institutions to the brink of what would be a hefty tuition increase — about $10,000 at Penn State alone. Since 2000, lawmakers have been chipping away at taxpayer appropriations to the Pennsylvania schools, which have seen their share decline by some $4,000 per student. Average tuition revenue increased by $5,880 per student over the same period.

    The story is similar in other states: Appropriations to public colleges are cut, or at the best, remain flat, and then tuition prices go up. That has resulted in a narrative repeated among public university officials nationwide in recent years that as states get out of the business of higher education, students are shouldering more of the cost of their own education.

    But the precise impact of state budget cuts on student tuition has never really been clear — a drop in one doesn’t usually lead to an equal increase in the other. “There’s this accepted narrative that is repeated everywhere from Capitol Hill to state legislatures with very little evidence,” Jason Delisle, a resident fellow at the right-leaning American Enterprise Institute, told me. He found only three studies addressing this question over the past two decades. “Anywhere else in higher education, few people would make the assertions they are making with that little evidence,” he added.

    The body of research on the topic is slowly growing, however, as two studies in recent months have attempted to answer the question about whether state budget cuts are to blame for higher tuition prices. One, by the American Enterprise Institute, found that tuition prices at public institutions rise by only $5 for every $100 cut from direct subsidies per student. The other, in the journal Economics of Education Review,found the pass-through rate is about $25 for every $100 cut.

    Read more here. (The Washington Post)

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