How Funding Changed Tuition at Public Universities

February 17, 2012

Every high school senior looks to public school for a cheaper price tag. They expect a quality education for a cheaper price simply because it’s a state school. However, lower funding from the government has created problems for these once cheap schools, which are now creating a higher financial burden for students. The rising costs come as a result of public funding cuts to higher education, which means that tuition costs will continue to rise.

For years, the government has made up the difference for public education and tuition costs. The majority of operating costs were covered at state universities. A report released by Delta Cost Project now reveals that this no longer rings true. More than half of the costs at public research universities are now covered by student tuition. Students are now feeling the burn from these price hikes and are blaming the universities, which are not actually the reason that the tuition is rising so high in some cases.

Tuition and fees at four-year universities in the public sector rose by 7.9 percent in recent years. In-state tuition students pay an average of nearly $8,000 per year at public institutions. The budget cuts have led to state governments cutting funding for public universities, so now they cover operating costs with fees and tuition prices.

Higher tuition does not necessarily mean a better institution. Delta Cost Project also noted that the monies being made from tuition costs are being used to offset financing revenue losses from other funding sources, particularly when cut from state contributions. In spite of rising costs, spending on classroom instruction at universities showed that it declined even with tuition increases. Colleges and universities will continue to college revenue from grants, contracts and private gifts. However, organizations and private individuals will provide funding often for simple purposes, particular to one department. Schools cannot use these funds for core programming, which forces them to raise tuition even further.

At least 30 states have budget deficits of at least 10 percent for the coming year. Jane V. Wellman led the Delta Cost Project as the executive director, actually is paranoid about the state funding cuts and escalating tuition costs, stating that these costs will have better promise, as she noted in the The New York Times. In the next four years, more students will need student loans and financial aid to compensate for the higher tuition costs.

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