Editorial: Another increase - Each double-digit hike in tuition makes college less affordable
3/17/2006 Ashland Daily Independent
And the trend continues: As state funding for higher education continues to fall far short of what is requested by the state's universities and community and technical colleges, the responsibility for paying for college continues to shift from taxpayers to students and their families.
And as the trend toward annual double-digit increases in tuition continues, a college education becomes less and less affordable for young people from families of modest means.
In a state where the percentage of residents with a college education is among the lowest in the nation, state government should be encouraging young people to go to college, instead of discouraging them with soaring increases in tuition.
The board of regents of the Kentucky Community and Technical College System - which, of course, includes Ashland Community and Technical College - recommended an 11 percent hike in tuition for the coming year. That means full-time Kentucky students will be paying $109 more in tuition next fall than they did last fall. Earlier, the University of Kentucky - the state's flagship university - announced a 12 percent increase in tuition for next fall.
In approving the tuition increase, the KCTCS regents released a report by the Kentucky Council on Higher Education that ranked Kentucky 18th out of 20 "benchmark" states in funding for community and technical colleges. The report concluded that an additional $79 million in state funding was needed to close the Kentucky's gap in state funding relative to other states.
Despite the increase, the state's two-year community and technical colleges remain a bargain compared to the four-year universities. Currently, tuition rates at the four-year schools are between 84 percent and 147 percent higher than at the community and technical colleges. Still, "bargain" is a relative term if one can't afford to pay even the lower tuition rates at community and technical colleges.
Members of the Kentucky General Assembly know exactly what they are doing: By not providing more state funding for higher education, they are shifting the burden to students and their families. In essence, each increase in tuition is a "hidden tax" for families of college students - one that makes going to college more difficult to afford for many.
And without more college graduates, Kentucky simply is not going to compete with other states for the good-paying jobs of the future. We all lose when a talented young person is discouraged by the cost from seeking a college degree.