Public universities have always been considered a good deal in higher education, but increasingly that\’s no longer the situation. With a stagnant economy forcing state governments to cut funding for higher education, more schools have to make up the difference via tuition hikes — which means that those who considered a public university to become a great deal will need to examine things a bit more closely.
Consider a Colorado math teacher’s story: he and his decidedly middle-class parents could completely cover his tuition which at the time C the mid to late 1980′s C at roughly $8,600 per year.
Now that his daughter looks to follow in his footsteps, the tuition bill has a lot more than doubled. To attend CU, his daughter will have to pay more than $23,000 a year C a sum that\’s beyond what Joiner and his wife are able to afford.
The big difference between now and then: Though Colorado taxpayers now provide more funding in absolute terms, that cash cover a significantly smaller share of CU’s total spending, which has grown enormously. In 1985, when Mr. Joiner was a freshman, state appropriations paid 37% from the Boulder campus’s $115 million “general fund” budget. In the current academic year, the state is picking up 9% of a budget which has grown to $600 million.
A large amount of that growth develops from a hike in administrative costs, having a large portion being allocated to pay increases for all those holding non-faculty jobs. Meanwhile, like at many other schools, CU’s tenured faculty have reduced their teaching commitment, forcing the college to spend money for additional adjuncts and graduate assistants to consider over lectures C particularly the introductory classes.
And of course, there is always the problem of state funding. In the 1970s, Colorado was ranked 6th among all states for that amount of money per student that it spent on higher ed. By the time Joiner’s daughter was considering her options, the state was 48th with that list. That probably contributes more to CU’s higher price tag, since even with growth in administrative spending, it still spends less than half on administrative costs than do many other big research universities.
CU has got creative about creating up the budget shortfalls. Two years ago a vigorous lobbying campaign paid dividends when Colorado lawmakers chose to exclude foreign students from the cap around the number of from staters that the schools were permitted to accept.
Akaysha Joiner, the Aurora girl whose father attended CU within the 1980s, graduated at the top of her high-school class. When she applied, her father was making about $71,000 annually and her mother was temporarily out of work. CU offered her two grants totaling $7,400 along with a $5,000 loan, which may cover a little more than half the annual cost. Mr. Joiner states that he hadn’t put aside money for Akaysha’s education and was surprised she hadn’t been offered more aid due to her top class ranking, the truth that he and his wife are alumni which she is the kid of a black parent along with a Hispanic parent. “I don’t realize that I expected a full ride,” he says. “But I was clueless that [our payment] was going to be that top.”