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Public Universities Stuck in Spiral of Tuition Hikes Caused By Funding Cuts

By    |   Monday, 09 Sep 2013 08:09 AM

The start of classes is not the only familiar fall tradition on American college campuses — it's also become a dismal time when public universities come face to face with the impact of massive cuts in state funding that have forced tuition increases along with budget cuts and layoffs.

In fact, state funding cuts are the chief cause of public university tuition inflation in recent years, according to education experts interviewed by USA Today.

"They increase tuition, they shift enrollment from in-state students to out-of-state and international students, who pay higher out-of-state tuition, and they cut enrollments so that each student gets the same size slice of the pie of funding," said Mark Kantrowitz, publisher of Edvisors.com, of the difficult choices made by public universities.

Editor’s Note:
Opinion: Retirees to Be Hit With Social Security Cuts

The State Higher Education Executive Officers Association (SHEEO) estimated 15 states have suffered declines in higher-education funding of nearly 30 percent or more in the past five years.

The worst hit has been New Hampshire, where state funding has plummeted by more than half since 2007, the SHEEO said. To make matters worse, New Hampshire's public university graduates had the highest average student debt load in the United States as of 2011, data from the Project of Student Debt suggested.

Florida is the state with the second-highest cuts in public university funding, with a decrease of 40 percent since 2007, USA Today reported.

SHEEO said other states with the worst state funding cuts for their public universities included: Idaho (38.7 percent), South Carolina (-38.5 percent), Arizona (-35 percent), Washington (-34.8 percent), Nevada (-32.3 percent), Virginia (34.3 percent), Oregon (-32 percent) and Massachusetts and Michigan (-30 percent each.)

In August, President Obama raised a proposal to tie all federal financial aid programs to a rating system of colleges on affordability, student completion rates and the earnings of graduates.

"We are going to deliver on a promise we made last year, which is colleges that keep their tuition down and are providing high-quality education are the ones that are going to see their taxpayer funding go up," Obama told students at the State University of New York at Buffalo.

Inside Higher Ed, a trade publication, predicted that pulling off the Obama plan could be difficult. "The creation of metrics will be enormously complicated as well as controversial," the publication said.

A key Republican leader in Congress, John Kline, R-Minn., chairman of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, sounded a note of skepticism about the White House's plan.

"While I am pleased the president's new plan recognizes the importance of promoting innovation and competition in higher education, I remain concerned that imposing an arbitrary college ranking system could curtail the very innovation we hope to encourage — and even lead to federal price controls," Kline said in a statement.

Editor’s Note: Opinion: Retirees to Be Hit With Social Security Cuts

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The start of classes is not the only familiar fall tradition on American college campuses — it's also become a dismal time when public universities come face to face with the impact of massive cuts in state funding that have forced tuition increases along with budget cuts and layoffs.
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2013-09-09
Monday, 09 Sep 2013 08:09 AM
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