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Bad Move, Bob

Or, Let Them Eat Student Loans...

From today's Star-Tribune:

U's tuition expected to surpass 10-grand

By JEFF SHELMAN, Star Tribune
February 8, 2008

Most University of Minnesota students will almost certainly face a pricetag of more than $10,000 for the first time next fall.

"I don't see any possibility that we can roll it back," University President Robert Bruininks said after a presentation to the school's regents Friday.

The projected increases -- which are taking place in part because of lower-than-hoped-for state appropriations -- would take annual tuition and fees for Minnesota residents into five figures.

While tuition increases won't be announced until April, the university is projecting an increase of 7.5 percent for Minnesota families making more than $150,000 per year and 5.5 percent for families making less than $150,000.

"Compared to what our parents paid for school, it's ridiculous," said Anthony West, a freshman from Mahtomedi who plans to major in biomedical engineering.

While the university has greatly expanded its aid to low-income students, more undergraduates are leaving school with significant debt. In his presentation Friday to the Board of Regents, Bruininks said that 60.5 percent of students graduating in four years get loans to pay for their education and the average debt is about $20,500.

University officials largely attribute the tuition increases to cuts in higher education funding from the Legislature.

"I don't think we're getting a fair cut from the state government," Regent Anthony Baraga said.

"We [Bruininks] can't be on a rollercoaster at Valleyfair every year," he said.

Of 10 schools the university considers its peers, Minnesota has higher resident tuition than Wisconsin, Ohio State, UCLA, California-Berkeley, Florida, Texas and Washington. Only Penn State, Michigan and Illinois have higher price tags.

Wisconsin's resident tuition is currently more than $2,400 cheaper than Minnesota. Iowa residents pay about $3,300 less at the University of Iowa than Minnesotans do at the university.

Bruininks said one of the biggest differences between Minnesota and Wisconsin is that Wisconsin benefits from having more nonresident students who pay higher tuition.

Why might that be, Bob? How is Wisconsin managing to do this?

This article raises a few other interesting questions:

The difference between in-state and out-of-state tuition at Wisconsin and Michigan is considerable, whereas we cut our difference significantly last year. If you can't compete on quality, compete on price. How is that working out?

The increase for MNSCU schools next year is going to be 2.5%/3.5%. Why the difference?

As an advisor and supervisor of undergraduates, I note that the job market is getting tighter and tighter due to an imminent recession. Is it fair to push people out the door with that kind of debt load under these circumstances?

You apparently want more money. Where is this supposed to come from?



ps. A friend notes that the Pioneer Press had already beaten the Strib to the punch in announcing the $10,000+ figure.

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