OUR VIEW: Unfunded tuition mandates

Tuesday , March 18, 2014 - 12:12 PM

Editorial Board

What's most frustrating about the latest proposal from Weber State University to raise tuition by 5 percent and tuition fees by 4.2 percent, is that it is essentially an unfunded mandate to students.

The cost increases are related to a pay increase authorized by the Legislature, and increase in the university's Rocky Mountain Power bill and higher costs in the state's retirement program.

As WSU's vice president for administrative services, Norm Tarbox, says, "... a tuition increase ... happens every year."

How true; last spring, Weber State upped its tuition 6 percent and fees 3 percent. In fact, the latest tuition hike proposal is the lowest in the past few years. The "least-expensive public university in the state of Utah," as Tarbox put it, will, if passed, cost full-time (15 hours) undergraduate residents $2,384.06 a semester.

And we wonder why there is a huge, alarming, growing problem with student debt overwhelming adults in this nation.

Weber State University is a great school, with high-quality faculty who have provided quality educations for students. We understand it faces annual budget pressures. Nevertheless, the constant increases in tuition and fees in virtually all universities is a problem that won't go away and must be addressed. The increases are pricing middle-class students out of the market for a university education. The fact that Weber State is the lowest-priced public university in Utah is alarming. The only alternative for many students is to get a student loan with debt that follows long after their graduation.

There needs to be a serious effort from our state leaders, and university professionals, to find a way to stop this constant high increase in university costs. If no real effort is taken, it won't be long until $3,000, $4,000, and more will be regarded as the "lowest tuition in the state."

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