Tuition rises faster than inflation

By By Victoria Johnson

By Victoria Johnson

For years, students’ higher education costs have grown, and there is no sign that the increases are slowing.

Adjusted for inflation, U tuition for the 1976-1977 year ($525) would be $1,802 today, but the current tuition for a 30-credit-hour year is $4,662-more than two-and-a-half times as much.

“For higher education, the notion has always been a shared responsibility between the state, students and families,” said Paul Brinkman, associate vice president of budget and planning. “Over the past few decades, the burden for the students has grown.”

And the burden is growing more quickly.

Annual tuition increases have averaged about 9.1 percent each year for the last five years, while the average yearly increase for the 15 years prior was 4.9 percent, according to data from the Office of Budget and Planning.

Matthew Burbank, associate professor of political science, said, “Part of what has happened is the state Legislature thinks it’s OK to shift more of the cost to students.”

Many students have noticed the trend and are unhappy with their larger share of costs.

“I recognize that it’s expensive to run a university,” said Matt Gunderson, senior in exercise and sport science, “but I wish they could do it and not charge students more.”

Ryan Dark, junior physics major, said, “I know (tuition) goes up every year; it’s just economics. But sometimes tuition goes up faster than inflation.”

Brinkman acknowledged that tuition has increased faster than inflation in the last 20 years and that the trend is continuing.

“Higher education is going to increase over the rest of the economy by about 1.5 to 2.5 percent a year,” he said.

He agreed with students that the trend is troubling.

“You cannot have an exponential growth curve forever,” he said. “It’s got to stop.”

Many students are concerned about the lack of information about tuition increases.

“I think it would be better if (administrators) explained,” said Robert Bain, a graduate student in social work. “I respect that things cost money. They may have reasons. I just think it’d be nice if they offered that information in an open forum-even just an e-mail or letter.”

Juniors K.C. Marett, an engineering major, and Dan Larsen, a political science major, are starting a student committee to address tuition and campus spending.

“I think what’s happening right now is a lot of students aren’t getting the opportunity to go to school because it is too expensive,” Larsen said. “If tuition is an investment, why isn’t the state putting more money into it?”