The Chronicle’s View: Tuition hike unfair for U

Another year, another tuition hike. There are really only three types of reactions to hearing about increases in tuition.

Some students just don’t care. Some care, but not too much. Others want to take down whoever is behind it.

That’s the hardest part. Figuring out who is to blame.

Here’s one for starters: the Utah State Legislature.

This Friday, the Utah State Board of Regents will hear a recommendation for a first tier tuition increase, which they will decide whether or not to pass.

That increase will be applied to all public institutions of higher education in the state. Then, in the spring, each school’s administration will propose a second-tier increase-specific to each school-which is also subject to approval by the Regents.

While it’s not clear what the first-tier recommendation will be until Friday, many are reporting that it should be somewhere in the range of 3.5 to 4 percent.

Last year’s increase was 4.5 percent. The second-tier increase at the U was 7 percent, but was as high as 19 percent for other schools.

It’s easy to understand the need to steadily increase tuition, especially given the tough economic realities of the past few years.

Plus, when new resident students enter the system, they only pay one-third of their educational costs while the state picks up the other two-thirds.

The fact that more than 10,000 new students have entered the system of higher education in Utah within the last three years without any funding provided for by the state makes reality clearer than ever.

Something, somewhere or some time, has to give. There’s no doubt that a tough economy has caused a shortage in available funds.

But the argument that there’s nothing to spend is not true either.

There’s money, just not as much as is needed. Thus, decisions have to be made and priorities have to be set. While the next legislative session doesn’t start for a few months, the tone has to be set now.

In the likelihood that there will again be a shortage in funds, state leaders need to show their commitment to higher education by allocating necessary funding so the student growth that has already occurred can be accommodated for, among the other necessities of colleges and universities in the state.

If that means road construction needs to be put on hiatus for a year or two, so be it. Without a major increase in funding this year, academic standards in the state will be compromised, and regents and administrators will be forced to continue to raise tuition to make up for the lack of funding.

Students and community members can get used to driving on second-class roads. They cannot, and should not, get used to a second class education.