Tuesday, March 02, 2010

State family group assails higher ed costs, calls on lawmakers to make cuts, cap tuitions

LEXINGTON, KY—A state family advocacy group released a report today that shows college tuitions are rising faster than health care costs and questions the ability of colleges and universities to control their own costs. The group also called for limits on tuitions at state schools and said it favored budget cuts for public universities. "Kentucky families are being crushed under the burden of college tuitions," said Martin Cothran, senior policy analyst for The Family Foundation.

"While our university presidents appear before legislative committees begging for lawmakers to let them have more taxpayer money to build pretty new buildings, Kentucky families have to dig deeper into their pockets to be able to afford a college education for their children. If university leaders can't control their own costs, then the legislature needs to do it for them."

Cothran said his group favors both tuition caps and budget cuts for four-year public universities. "These are the two ways our universities take advantage of taxpayers," Cothran said. "State legislators need to lay down the law and tell our institutions of higher learning that they need to get their houses in order before they come begging for more taxpayer money."

The report, titled "Kentucky Higher Education Access," argues that increasing taxpayer support for education will not bring college tuitions down, since such subsidies are quickly eaten up by tuition increases. It also finds that cost increases at state colleges and universities are rising at more than twice the rate of median household incomes.

The report includes three findings:
  • Higher education costs have been rising nationally faster than any other sector in the economy, including health care.
  • Although taxpayers have diligently supported state institutions of higher education, affordability—and therefore access—has declined and the responsibility lies within the institutions themselves.
  • Higher education costs as a percentage of household income in Kentucky have continued to increase.
According to the report, Kentucky State University, University of Kentucky, and Morehead State University were among the worst offenders among public universities when it comes to lack of cost control. UK's student costs have increased from $10,526 in 2000 to $17,236 in 2006.

The report was authored by Robert Martin, a professor emeritus at Centre College in Danville.


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