Public colleges across the country might have to begin accommodating feasible tuition prices for students – if they want to receive federal funds.
President Barack Obama announced a plan last Friday that would possibly lower tuition fees at public universities and colleges, lower student debt and promote higher education in the United States. As part his State of the Union address agenda, Obama visited the University of Michigan where he called out to public universities and state governments to cooperate in such a manner where students are able to afford a college education.
“We’re telling the states ‘if you can find new ways to bring down the cost of college and make it easier for more students to grad, we will help you do it,’” said Obama in an Associated Press video. Obama plans to add federal money for Pell Grants, accommodate more college tax credits and create a “Race to the Top” for competition within states and colleges, which would grant federal funds to states that lower tuition costs and provide a quality higher education.
Although many higher education supporters may be pleased by the proposed reforms, the chances of Obama’s plan to carry out this year are faint. “It is highly unlikely that anything proposed by a democrat-sitting president will be embraced by a republican lay congress in an election year,” said Dr. Boris Ricks, CSUN political-science professor.
Part of Obama’s blueprint is to help colleges that are producing an effort to make education affordable for their students by increasing federal funds. Those universities and colleges that are not meeting affordability requirements would be penalized by lessening their federal aid.
“States also need to do their part, by making higher education a higher priority in their budgets. And colleges and universities have to do their part by working to keep costs down,” said Obama in his State of the Union speech. Vice President Joe Biden said Secretary of Education Arne Duncan would set up “a fair formula” on how to judge tuition on college campuses, the formula is still in development.
According to College Board, in 2011-12, 44 percent of undergraduate college students attended universities with tuition fees of about $9,000 per year. Biden said tuition has gone up 300 percent over the past three years in the U.S. At CSUN, tuition has increased increased 43 percent since the 2007-08 school year as reported in a September Sundial article.
“Relative to everything going up, CSUN is still an extremely affordable university campus. And our student fees a quite a bit less than other parallel universities,” said Cynthia Rawitch, vice provost at CSUN. Parallel universities are public state universities such as Arizona State, Colorado State University or Michigan State University.
The price for attending Colorado State University, Fort Collins, without room and board and extra expenses, is $8,040 for the 2011-2012 school year. “In terms of somewhere else you might go (CSUN) a very good value,” Rawitch said. “In terms of how much it’s costing, it’s considerably more painful now than it was five years ago, eight years ago.”
Some students, like Hubert Cheo, finance junior, who came to CSUN before shopping around in the east coast, feel like CSUN is affordable to most students. Cheo pays about $8,000 a semester since he is an international student from China. He said that out-of-state tuition at other universities runs up to $20,000. However, not all students feel CSUN’s tuition fees are a bargain.
Steve Gill, 22, political-science senior and student activist said he knows many people that cannot afford to attend CSUN, even though its price is not exorbitant. He credits financial aid for having the opportunity to attend college.