Apr 072002

I hope you’ve been saving your spare change – you’re going to need it. The Colorado Joint Budget Committee has recently approved a 7.7 percent tuition hike for public universities.

According to the Denver Post, the average in-state tuition will go from $2,800 a year to $3,000 a year, but the increase will hit out-of-state students even more, with about a $1,000 increase. This is the state’s highest tuition increase in 11 years.

While the money is needed, a tuition hike this big and this quick is too much for the paying students, especially in this time of economic turmoil. Even though the legislation requires that 25 percent of the increase goes to need-based student scholarships, that’s still not enough for most students.

Graduating seniors are entering a horrible job market, and nobody is quite sure where the market will go in the future. In a year, graduating students may be without a job and with even more student loans to pay back. With an outcome like that, why would anybody want to go to college?

This isn’t to say the economy hasn’t affected CSU. Fewer contributions from donors and a $2 million budget cut make money tight; a tuition increase would definitely help out, but at what cost to the students?

While a tuition increase may help CSU in the long run, it is a disservice to students who are struggling right now. Yes, this school needs the money, but it shouldn’t be at the hands of the students it is designed to serve.

CSU, as well as other Colorado universities, are in favor of this increase. Due to the Taxpayers’ Bill of Rights Amendment, tuition increases in Colorado have been kept relatively low, setting Colorado schools behind their peer institutions. Over the past five years, tuition increases throughout the nation have grown, on an average of 25 percent, while in Colorado tuition has increased by an of average 10.3 percent. Officials say that even with this tuition increase, CSU will still be cheaper than its peer institutions.

Quite frankly, I’m not concerned about other schools. In one year, tuition at CSU will increase almost as much as five years combined. Students have an expectation of their school /_” an expectation of a quality education at a fair price /_” but this increase, so big and so fast, shakes that expectation and students’ confidence in their schools. Students at CSU aren’t concerned with how much Kansas State students pay; they’re concerned each year with how they’ll pay for their education at their school. A quick and big increase like this will make the change even more difficult.

Students should not be solely bearing the brunt of the cost of higher education. CSU is a public institution, but the money we get from the state is, at best, miniscule. Colorado, with one of the highest economies in the nations, ranks 41st nationally in terms of state and local appropriations for higher education.

Even with TABOR, schools aren’t receiving from the state the bare minimum they could under the legislation. The State of Colorado is asking students to cough up money that they won’t give themselves.

If the increase is approved, schools will be allowed to raise tuition up to 7.7 percent. I hope CSU officials will see the strain on the students and are conservative about how high an increase we will get.

Maria Sanchez-Traynor is a senior majoring in English and journalism.

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