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Obama Orders Lowering of Higher Education Costs

Colleges and Universities Failing to Comply May Face Loss of State Funding


default article imageDuring the State of the Union Address made on January 21, President Barack Obama proposed a plan requiring colleges and universities to find ways to keep tuition down. If they are unable to do so, he threatened to take away state funding.

While the risk of losing money from the state looms over the roofs of several institutions, University students may rest assured that they are not at one of the most highly priced universities in the country.

If you were to look at Monmouth’s history of tuition increases versus many of our colleges in the state of New Jersey or around the country, Monmouth has taken the approach of modest tuition increases,” said Claire Alasio, Associate Vice President of Enrollment Management and Director of Financial Aid. “I think that there are other institutions out there that aren’t as responsible about their tuition increases. If I had to infer what President Obama was saying, I don’t think they are saying institutions shouldn’t increase tuition. I think they’re saying institutions should do it in a reasonable and responsible way.”

Tuition rises every year in order to maintain rising costs of facilities on campus and to meet the expectations of students and their families, such as maintaining small class sizes, limiting the number of adjunct faculty, providing wireless computer access and making cable television available in the residence halls, according to William Craig, Vice President for Finance.

“We have been working to keep costs down for more than a decade,” Craig said. “We have one of the lowest tuition and fee costs of the private colleges and universities in New Jersey. Over the last 10 years, the average annual tuition fees cost among these private institutions has risen by over $3,800 more than tuition and fees at the University. Accomplishing this has taken concerted efforts by the entire University community to be prudent in making spending decisions and carefully choosing the priorities that can be funded.”

“It would be unrealistic to expect that, as cost of electricity and the cost of businesses go up, that students would be paying the same tuition that they were paying in 2000,” Alasio added.

Tuition costs can be kept down, even those of the University whose expenses increase in gradual, fair increments. Although, this task is more difficult than it would seem.

Due to the reduced or declination of certain sources of income, such as the balancing of state budgets and the declining in interest rates, it becomes difficult to keep tuition costs low, according to Craig.

“Nevertheless, Monmouth University’s tuition increases have consistently been among the lowest charged by private colleges and universities in New Jersey for over 15 years resulting in a tuition and fee rate that is in the lowest third of that group of institutions in the state,” Craig said.

However, the warning that federal funding may be taken from larger institutions remains if costs cannot be kept down. According to President Obama’s State of the Union Address, the discontinuation of federal aid to institutions that do not lower tuition is a part of a plan to make higher education available and affordable to more people.

Craig explained that details regarding the Obama’s plan to control college costs have yet to be released. “It seems that the proposal will include making new federal funds available to those institutions that meet certain yet to be determined criteria for controlling costs,” Craig said. “It appears that any college or university that receives federal funds could be impacted by this including the University but we expect that MU’s history of very measured and responsible tuition increases positions the University well.”

University services and finances aside, tuition is also directly affected by the economy. While debate as to whether University graduates will be able to find employment opportunities is widely disputed, one thing can be sure for a higher education institution: “A growing economy will ease pressure on state budgets which may allow the restoration of funds that were reduced or eliminated during the economic downturn,” Craig said.