This is Why College Tuition Continues to Soar
Despite a slow economy and low level of inflation, the price of a college education continues to soar. This morning, the Globe pointed out that fees at Massachusetts state universities are poised to raise 6 percent for the next academic year:
For a student at Bridgewater State, the increase will mean an extra $500 next year. That will bring the annual cost for an in-state student â€” including tuition, fees, and room and board â€” to $18,645.
Much of the additional money will help finance Bridgewaterâ€™s new $100 million science building and pay the salaries of new professors hired under the universityâ€™s faculty expansion plan, Clark said. About a quarter of the new fee money will be used for financial aid, in addition to a wide variety of university activities.
Fees at the UMass system, meanwhile, are jumping 4.9 percent. Nationally, state colleges saw a 8.3 percent tuition hike this past year, while private colleges increased fees 4.5 percent.
The question is: Why? Perhaps a college education â€” which dramatically increases earning power â€” has been undervalued for decades, and we’re finally beginning to price it appropriately. But it seems like a good portion of it could be due to things like that $100 million science building at Bridgewater. Here’s more about that building, from the Taunton Gazette:
Junior Joe Fitzgerald said BSUâ€™s new state-of-the-art science building is what heâ€™d expect to find at an elite private university and heâ€™s thrilled to have access to it at state school prices.
â€śItâ€™s a beautiful facility and Iâ€™m pretty excited to be here,â€ť Fitzgerald of Easton said last week as the fall semester kicked off during an unveiling tour of Phase I of the new $98.7 million, state-funded Science and Mathematics Center at Bridgewater State University.
BSU President Dana Mohler-Faria told Fitzgerald the university recently hosted some faculty from MIT and they said the new center â€śrivals anything they have.â€ť
Now: I have no problem with students at Bridgewater State receiving a top-notch education. They absolutely should. But BSU is never going to compete with MIT, which a BSU dean actually concedes in the Gazette story. Which raises the question: Why does the “home of teacher education in America” need a $100 million science building worthy of MIT? Here’s more, from a different Globe story this past fall:
Jeffrey Bowen, professor and chairman of the biology department, said there is a cellular research lab where cancer cells are being studied, with groups of eight students working on programmed cell death, called apoptosis.
â€śItâ€™s unusual to do tissue culture at the undergraduate level,â€™â€™ Bowen said, â€śbut the equipment here allows us to do it. We wonâ€™t find a cure for cancer, but we will get students excited about research.â€™â€™
So, we’re jacking up tuition 6 percent in order to do “unusual” research that probably won’t solve anything but will “get students excited about research”? Really?
I don’t mean to single out Bridgewater State here â€” many universities are building new facilities in an attempt to attract students. Call it the U.S. News & World Report effect, where every college now has to compete for students and resources. But at some point, isn’t it worth stopping to ask: Is this really the right step for our university? Unless some wealthy alumnus donated the cash to put up the building, then why are we raising tuition in a down economy? Is what we’re doing totally essential to their education? And if it’s not: Why are we doing this?
Source URL: http://www.bostonmagazine.com/news/blog/2012/07/02/college-tuition-continues-soar/