Public University Tuitions Rising

Compiled By Staff
February 4, 2010

tuitions risingAs state governments struggle to balance budgets and cut costs during the recession, public universities throughout the country are being forced to impose tuition hikes to make up the difference.

The Associated Press reports that according to the College Board, families are paying about $1172 to $1,096 more in tuition this year. The national average for tuition in 2009-10 is around $7,000, not including room and board.

Some of the tuition hikes the AP notes include a 15 percent increase at Florida universities, 9 percent at the University of Illinois, and 14 percent at the University of Washington.

The steepest tuition hikes are taking place in California. The University of California has raised tuition by 32 percent this year to $10,302--three times more than what was paid a decade ago. At California State University, fees similarly rose 32 percent from fall 2008 to fall 2009 to $4,026, and are expected to increase another 10 percent this year.

Even states that pledged to freeze tuition are being forced to reconsider this year. The Washington Post reports that after a four-year freeze on public university tuition in Maryland, Gov. Martin O'Malley announced that in-state students will face an increase of about 3 percent.

"It's a major concession on the part of the governor," noted Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. in the Post. He added that O'Malley would have preferred to continue the tuition freeze for another year to help him fulfill a pledge to make higher education more affordable.

But House Minority Leader Anthony J. O'Donnell pointed out that raising tuition was inevitable. He told the Post that "falsely capping the cost of tuition and subsidizing that with taxpayer dollars is not sustainable. We should have been weaning off that proposal years ago."

Meanwhile, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports that University of Texas at Austin officials recommended raising tuition 5.4 percent for the 2010-11 year, from $8,936 to $9,418, and 3.95 percent in 2011-12 to $9,790. Last year, the Texas House of Representatives passed a nonbinding resolution asking universities to limit increases in tuition to no more than 3.95 percent.

State Rep. Dan Branch, who sponsored the resolution, expressed his appreciation of UT-Austin's proposal, noting it was reasonable, particularly when compared to California's tuition hikes. But State Sen. Wendy Davis felt that given the financial struggles families are facing, tuition should not be raised at all.

"I'm very, very disappointed actually by the proposal," she was quoted as saying in the Star-Telegram. "Families across Texas are making extreme sacrifices. Businesses across Texas are making extreme sacrifices. . . . It's hard for me to believe they couldn't find some purse-string tightening to accommodate a tuition freeze."

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