The cost of attending college is surely on the minds of incoming college students, and their parents. Over the past few decades the cost of attending a four-year college has skyrocketed. In the past thirty years, tuition at four-year public universities has increased by 225%. As a result, students are being crushed with student loan debt. Current student loan debt is around $1.2 trillion, which is more than all credit card debt held in the United States, and continues to rise every year.
Part of the problem is the fact that colleges are less interested in keeping costs low, and more interested in attracting students. Schools are investing heavily in new facilities, amenities, and programs for the sole purpose of attracting more students.
The schools are partially right in doing so because studies show that when schools invest money into the students’ college experience, recruitment goes up. Whenever you take a tour of a college campus, I am certain your tour guide will highlight the new sports stadium, the new gym equipment, or whatever else makes the school seem better than other schools. However, they will likely not tell you about the tuition hikes that will take place next year, the dorms that don’t even have A/C, or diminishing academics.
When I interviewed the President of the College of Southern Maryland, Dr. Bradley Gottfried, he pushed back against what many universities are doing. When asked about universities increased spending on amenities while raising the cost of tuition, he responded, “It (amenities) attracts students and keeps students engaged so they give money in the future. Do I believe this is ethical, or warranted, the answer is no.”
In spite of the increasing cost of attending college, especially in Maryland, the University of Maryland has put forward a proposal to spend $155 million on renovating the Cole Field House. Out of the $155 million dollar budget proposal, $50 million of the budget would come from state and university funds.
At the very same time, the University of Maryland is increasing the cost of tuition. This fall, University of Maryland undergraduate students will see their tuition increase from $7,764 to $8,152. The tuition increase is not limited to College Park. This fall, all public universities will see their tuition increase by at least 5%. Tuition at UMBC will increase from $7,518 to $8,044 and from $6,124 to $6,430 at Towson.
The continuous increases in tuition are negatively affecting both potential, and current students. Many people are forgoing college altogether or dropping down to part-time because the cost of tuition is too great. Current students and their families increasingly have to foot a larger and larger bill in order to get an education. This trend needs to be stopped and then reversed. College needs to be affordable for all, so that anyone who wants to pursue an education has the opportunity to do so.