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Tuition freeze is beneficial for students and schools

BY DI EDITORIAL BOARD | MARCH 29, 2012 6:30 AM

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The House Appropriations Committee has voted unanimously in favor of a tuition freeze at the University of Iowa, Iowa State University, and the University of Northern Iowa.

The decision to implement a tuition freeze at Iowa's three state universities would not only be beneficial to students, it would force schools to take accountability for their budgeting disasters and fix the problem instead of relying on students to bail them out.

Not only are universities such as UI doing a poor job of managing expenditures, it also avoids or refuses to discuss the issue and to take responsibility for failed budgets.

By raising tuition, the schools can avoid assessing and cutting back on frivolous spending. A report published by UI regarding the general-education fund budgeted revenues shows the state Board of Regents approved a 6 percent increase in tuition in 2011 alone, putting too much responsibility on students to virtually fund the entire university.

UI should reappropriate its expenditures before asking students to shell out more cash — minor changes such as cutting back on funding for events that consistently have poor attendance (say, dorm activities on a Friday nights.)

"When we ask the questions about, you know, what are you spending on utilities, what are you spending on office supplies? You don't get answers," Rep. Nick Wagner, R-Marion, said. This freeze will force university officials to actually do their job and attempt to fix the problems they have created.

The purpose of a public university is to make higher education more easily available to the public; tuition increases prevent universities from doing so.

Median household income has grown in the past 40 years, but the cost of attending a state college has increased exponentially more for in-state students and even more for out-of-state students, making college less of a possibility for many students. The freeze would allow the household income to catch up to the high price of higher education, giving future generations more opportunities to succeed.

An argument opposing the tuition freeze claims that the quality of education at UI would decrease with the increase in class size.

But this assumes the majority of the revenues go directly toward class improvement. One Los Angeles Times article says revenue generated from a tuition increase is not typically used in a manner that would benefit the average student — meaning the higher the tuition goes, the quality of education is the same. If class sizes need cutting, then class sizes need cutting — a tuition freeze guarantees UI will doublecheck the number of staples it needs before cutting class size.

If after cleaning the budget and eliminating unnecessary expenditures the institution still feels a tuition increase is absolutely necessary, it should apply to students paying in-state tuition and out-of-state students equally. The current system is extremely unfair to nonresident students, who come to UI to benefit from the renowned academics it offers.

Though out-of-state students continually whine about how they are paying almost $24,000 against Iowa natives' $6,000, they have a point. Out-of-state tuition rises at a faster rate than residential tuition, thus having more of an impact on their finances.

The freeze would stop that inequality. It would level the playing field for student from all over the globe and allow for a more diverse community of students.

A tuition freeze is a necessary step that must be taken to keep school affordable to the public that it is intended to serve and to pressure universities into revisit flawed budgets. The tuition freeze will also take the burden of funding the school off the shoulders of students attending University of Iowa and other regent schools.


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