Drop the tuition hike

Just when we were getting excited about the House giving college students some financial relief, we get a slap in the face with yet another tuition hike. That’s right, I’m sure you’ve heard that tuition rates are jumping 9.25 percent at Northern Kentucky University this fall.

You’ve also probably heard the radio commercials promoting NKU’s “private school feel with public school cost.”

Generally, the main benefits of going to a private school are low student-teacher ratios and cream-of-the-crop professors. The benefits of a public school often include the price tag. Can NKU really hold on to this image as tuition rates soar?

In a May 17, 2006 CityBeat article, NKU President James Vortuba was asked how some colleges are expanding their class sizes and hiring more teaching assistants to prevent tuition increases. He responded: “That’s a way to hold down costs, and we’ve not done that. We’ve gone the other direction.”

And boy, have we ever. From fall 2000 to fall 2007, less than a decade, NKU’s tuition has increased by 178.65 percent.

I’m not going to argue that the 22-to-1 student-teacher ratio isn’t a plus – it definitely is. But I would be OK with a few more students in my classes if it meant quite a few more dollars in my pocket.

I’m also not going to argue that having a highly qualified faculty isn’t something to brag about, because it most certainly is. We do have some excellent teachers, but I’d be willing to give a few teaching assistants a shot if it meant capping my financial aid debt.

One of the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education’s (CPE) goals is to double the number of college-educated adults by the year 2020. Sadly, this is not an ambitious goal. If reached, it would bring Kentucky up to only the average amount across the United States.

The CityBeat article reported, “Only 12.4 percent of the state’s residents 25 years and older have degrees, ranking the state 49th in the United States, according to a 2004 report by the Institute for Higher Education Policy.” This is partly due to the inability of Kentuckians to afford a college education, which has become less affordable according to the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education.

Even though many are starting to realize the importance of a college education because more and more jobs, even entry-level ones, are requiring a degree, the costs of tuition have been stifling many dreams of heading back to school. Odds are the steady rise in tuition won’t be whetting any Kentuckians’ appetites for a college education at NKU this year.