Dear college student with exorbitant tuition bill: Blame your legislator

college-costs-featured-image-3-21jpg-d92afbe7680e2d4d

Legislators would have you believe that college tuition costs are soaring because institutions of higher education are “inefficient” and/or us faculty are just too darn lazy, why aren’t professors in the classroom teaching 8 hours per day? (myopic view of what we actually do…) Why aren’t graduate school classes 100 students instead of 15-20? (ask graduate students if they want to be in a 100 person class…)

Politicians (and some “researchers” at TPPF) are determined to scapegoat college and universities and their faculty and students by developing NCLB-style system for higher education.

This is another case of facts getting in the way of ideology. Why?

The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities found that, for example, in the state of Michigan:

Direct state aid, as a share of public university funding, has plummeted since the 1970s. Michigan’™s 15 public universities now get less than 25 percent of their operational funds from the Legislature

For UT-Austin, the state revenue percent is 14.

The featured photo on this post represents the divestment in higher education in Michigan. The graph show the inverse relationship between state funding and student tuition costs. As states have cut funding, they have passed the cost on to the consumer (students). My family experienced this dramatic decline in state funding to higher education and rise in tuition costs over the past 30 years at the University of Michigan. What my parents paid to attend University of Michigan Ann Arbor per year: ~$1,500, What I paid: ~$7,000, What my youngest sister paid: ~$16,000

Does it take rocket science (or a meta analysis) to understand that students are more likely to stay in school when they can pay their tuition bills? (See Graduate student persistence: A meta-analysis of evidence from three decades)

Is the solution to the problems that legislators have created by dramatically cutting state funding over the past three decades “outcomes-based education” aka NCLB for higher education?

Based on our national experiences with “outcomes-based education” in K-12, what reason do we have to believe it will work in higher education? NCLB hasn’t moved the needle appreciably, there is no reason to believe that NCLB for higher education will work either.

Considering how NCLB has played out relative to school finance in many states, NCLB will serve as a vehicle to break our system and justify more funding cuts for the colleges that serve both elite and students with promise such at HBCUs and system campuses that are not powerful flagships.

To increase graduation rates, we need to make sure that students can pay their tuition bills. If we want our economy to move forward, we can’t saddle the coming generation with large piles of debt when they graduate. We could call it “input-based education.”

The reoccurring conversation about “outcomes-based education” sidetracks us from the real issue, which is how (and why) states have divested in higher education over the past 30 years.

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Categories: Higher Education Access

Author:Julian Vasquez Heilig

Julian Vasquez Heilig is currently an Associate Professor of Educational Policy and Planning and African and African Diaspora Studies (by courtesy) at the University of Texas at Austin.

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2 Comments on “Dear college student with exorbitant tuition bill: Blame your legislator”

  1. Dongmei
    March 23, 2013 at 4:12 pm #

    1. Great point. Only when tuition is affrodable can students are more academically focused. In China, college students do not worry about the tuition and the 4-year graduation is a default.
    2. You comparison of your family’ tuition is impressive. Is inflation rate adjusted?

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. College for Free!? (Mark Cuban is Paying…) | Cloaking Inequity - April 23, 2014

    […] College is expensive nowadays. There are various arguments out there why that is the case, as I previously discussed in the post Dear college student with exorbitant tuition bill: Blame your legislator. […]

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