President [Wendy] Wintersteen just announced the planned tuition hikes for the 2019-20 academic school year. I have seen so many articles recently that are bashing the Board of Regents for continuing to cut funding to universities but no one has taken a step back to look at the bigger picture. While having state funds cut by the Board of Regents is troubling, it is not the main driver of tuition hikes.
Iowa State, along with most other colleges, is continuing to increase tuition because their yearly spending is out of control. They have continually taken advantage of the fact that students have extremely easy access to student loan debt and preyed upon them because of it. They know that students will take out as much money as they need to in order to pay for their college because it is an “investment." However, that investment’s return is diminishing more and more each time the university decides to increase tuition. They are not thinking about the long-term ramifications that student loan debt will have on our economy. Young adults are pushing off saving for retirement, buying a home, getting married, etc. because student loan debt has become such an issue in our country.
While public universities do not operate like regular business, they can take some meaningful lessons from them. Successful businesses do not look towards raising the cost of their goods and services as the first option when faced with difficult situations. They first look inwards and figure out where unnecessary expenses are in their business and cut them out. Iowa State has so many unnecessary expenses like redundant diversity programs, new buildings (when there are millions upon millions of dollars in deferred maintenance on their current buildings) and idiotic spending on our athletic programs. They are trying to “keep up with Joneses” and compete with all the other universities across the country at the expense of their students. As a finance major, I find it ridiculous that no one in the college of business has tried to take a stand and point out the irresponsible spending that Iowa State has done over the years. The college of business is supposed to foster a new generation of entrepreneurs, CEOs, investors, etc. yet they are allowing this issue to snowball because they are not the ones being impacted.
Students and faculty have the right to be upset that funding is being cut for the university, however, they need to reassess what the fix is when that happens. Perhaps President Wintersteen should take a salary cut considering she is making well over $500k a year right now. Perhaps we should begin to cut out redundant diversity programs and ridiculous majors like “Gender Studies” since they serve no meaningful purpose except to look good for public relations. Perhaps Iowa State should have an external audit done and find how much money has been wasted over the years on unnecessary things in each department. I have been told by an adviser in the college of business that they spend money on things they don’t even need just because they said the money will be taken away from them if it isn’t spent. How responsible … Does that not make you upset that faculty members have no regard for the tens of thousands of dollars that you have spent for your education?
I urge students to have a conversation with other students, faculty and the administration about Iowa State’s outlandish spending. Our generation needs to bring about change and implement fiscally responsible spending policies for our government, universities and ourselves.