To begin with, I’m not sure how many of you will read this, as you should be studying for finals. Yes I’m talking to you. If that doesn’t deter you, I want to talk about tuition/fees at ISU.
Last semester there was a protest outside one of my classrooms. They were protesting the tuition plan approved by the Board of Regents to increase tuition by 3 percent. At the time, I was more frustrated with the protesters, as they blocked the buses and stalled traffic. Thinking on it now, however, perhaps they were on to something. This article is prompted by the email we all received from President Wintersteen. In this email, she essentially said that pending state funding, undergrad tuition could increase as much as 3.9 percent and graduate tuition by 4.9 percent. I would briefly like to talk about this proposal and share some statistics here.
I understand there are many factors that go into cost of college, many of which I’m sure I haven’t thought of. Nevertheless, my aim here is to show that this is a constant struggle ISU students have had to face for decades.
Lets spend some time looking at the tuition changes from 2001-2018. While I’m sure we would all like tuition to remain constant, this is just not feasible due to inflation. However, comparing tuition rates to inflation rates year by year shows that tuition has consistently increased more than inflation. The most recent years for inflation, 2017 and 2018 show an increase in 2.14 percent and 2.44 percent respectively. Compare that to the tuition increases of 3.51 percent and 4.06 percent. While that discrepancy may not seem like a lot, lets put it into perspective. In 2001, tuition was $3,132, while it is now $8,636, almost three times more! However, compared to inflation, that same amount would only become $4,498. This begs the question, why is tuition increasing by so much more than inflation?
In response to ISU not receiving the funding they requested from the state, President Wintersteen remarked in her email that “the state is not doing its part and is shifting the burden to our students and their families”. She then brings up the fact that state funding this year is $20 million less than in the year 2000 ($171 compared to $193 million). This seems to imply that tuition increases would be minimal if there were more state funding. However, in the years 2008 and 2009, when state funding was the highest ($205 and $212 million), tuition rates still increased on average by 2.9 percent compared to the inflation rate of 1.75 percent.
In conclusion, I do not believe the constant and extreme rise in tuition can be explained simply by lack of funding. In fact, we seem to have a spending problem here at ISU, and unless that is changed, tuition is on track to be $22,000+ by the year 2040. As prospective parents, would we really be able to pay for that?