Colleges and universities may face funding cuts if they don’t rein in tuition costs, said President Obama at the State of the Union Address on Jan. 24. The President scolded the higher education facilities, telling them tuition is just too high, and there will now be consequences for these high costs.
“If you can’t stop tuition from going up, the funding you get from taxpayers will go down,” Obama said. “Higher education can’t be a luxury. It’s an economic imperative that every family in America should be able to afford.”
The stance has the educational world in an uproar. Many think it is time for universities to be held accountable for their financial increases and lack of substance in curriculum.
“Universities have not been asked to prove themselves for some time… it is time. We are falling very very behind other countries. This is a very high priority, and it should be,” said Dr. Leigh Browning, Professor at WTAMU. “It involves STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Math), connecting the Digital Divide and making a degree of higher learning affordable for all.”
Students also agree that tuition costs are too high. Grants at the state level were lowered last school year, just in time to hit the rise in tuition.
“I think Obama… is really wanting to push states and universities to look at what is most important, which is students getting an education,” said WTAMU senior and Eternal Flame Editor, Kylie Berry. “When universities say they can’t keep costs any lower, it’s because they are too focused on the business part of running a university rather than keeping education their top priority.”
Kristi Behrens, parent of a 2013 WT prospective student, agrees with that logic, stating that, “Universities are more worried about their reputation than their students. I don’t currently know how we will pay for all four years of school for our kids.”
The universities, however, disagree. According to The Texas Tribune, Texas universities including Texas Tech University and the University of North Texas have seen a rise in tuition this year. Officials say funding for higher education took a 9 percent hit this year, which is the reason for the increase in tuition.
Some universities, such as the Texas A&M branches, chose not to raise most tuition cost this year. There will however be a slight raise in the architecture, veterinary, and engineering programs at College Station and Corpus Christi. WTAMU did not see a notable rise in cost this year.
“We remain among the least expensive 4 year universities in Texas, and we have done so as much as we can to help the student keep his or her educational expenses under control,” Dr. James Hallmark, provost and vice president for Academic Affairs, said. Given that we are among the least expensive in Texas and Texas is among the least expensive in the country. I suspect after the President’s plan is fleshed out, WTAMU will look like one of the better bargains in the country.”
While no immediate details on how this plan will be carried out, Obama cited that some universities are cutting costs already by re-aligning courses and using better technology. No official plans or deadlines have been announced as of this time.