Feb 262012
Authors: Kate Simmons

Editor’s note: It was incorrectly reported that CSU’s alumni support currently stands at 4 percent. Alumni support is actually 5.7 percent.

Colorado, according to CSU education professor Bill Timpson, is the victim of a higher education paradox.

As a state, he said, Coloradans are one of the highest-educated populations in the country. However, the paradox is that these educated voters continue to vote against higher education funding for the next generation.

This, along with other issues central to the affordability of higher education, was discussed Saturday during a community issues forum facilitated by Colorado State Representatives Randy Fischer and John Kefalas and Sen. Bob Bacon, which featured a diverse group of regional panelists.

“The accessibility, affordability, and quality of higher education is an increasingly important issue, and as students we need to pay attention to it,” said Elizabeth O’Brien, a senior communications major and student representative on the panel.

When it comes to state funding for higher education, Colorado is one of the lowest-ranked states in the nation.

And with decreasing state and federal funding, the burden to pay for higher education is falling on students, like O’Brien, and their families.

Timpson, who also served on the panel, said he’s has been affected by the rising costs of higher education. His daughter just graduated from college and, like many parents, Timpson said he felt the financial burden of putting her through school.

“Long term, our country will pay the price of putting the cost on students,” he said, adding that one way CSU could try to work out some of the tuition and funding problems is by creating a committee that would focus on student debt.

“If we can have a committee for a stadium, we should be able to have one to address student debt,” he said.

According to Chase Eckerdt, the director of Governmental Affairs for the Associated Students of CSU, the university could also start pursuing other avenues for additional funding.

One group he said he hopes could help lessen the financial burdens on students are alumni.

Even though alumni support currently stands at 5.7 percent – and is set to reach 9 percent by the end of June, according to CSU Spokesman Mike Hooker – Eckerdt hopes reaching out to graduates could alleviate some of the financial pressure that has only increased over the years.

“It’s important to have students engaged in the discussion,” Eckerdt said. “We do ourselves a disservice unless we participate in the conversation.”

But, according to panelist Bruce Walthers, the vice president at the Front Range Community College-Larimer Campus, funding for higher education needs to improve for the state to continue to recruit new business opportunities to the state.

“We can’t recruit on mountains and blue skies,” Walthers said. “We need quality education to draw in new students.”

Collegian writer Kate Simmons can be reached at news@collegian.com.

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