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article imageCollege tuition on the rise again

By Elizabeth Brown     Jan 3, 2015 in Business
The University of California (UC) system is the most visible example of school officials pushing for a tuition hike, and one of the most controversial.
This past fall, the nation’s largest college system stirred debate by proposing steep increases in tuition: up to 5 percent annually over the next five years. UC officials want the state of California to provide more funding to the system.
At that rate, the cost for attending UC would increase by 28 percent after five years. The system is saddled by increases in payroll and retirement costs, and also wants to hire more faculty and enroll 5,000 more California undergraduates. UC and state officials said the proposed increases – paid for by Californians and wealthier students – would help low-income students and minorities.
The larger California State University (CSU) system is also under fire for increasing the cost of college through misleading or hidden fees. A dozen campuses are charging so-called “success fees” of up to nearly $800 per student. These fees are being imposed as CSU trustees are facing pay increases for administration officials, including a proposed 3 percent pay hike for the chancellor, campus presidents, and other executives.
Tuition Freeze
Other institutions are anticipating possible lower enrollments at UC and CSU colleges. Thus, some competing universities are promising steady tuition rates to attract high school graduates seeking more reasonable costs for college. For example, Irvine, Calif.-based Brandman University has a ‘no tuition hike’ pledge for prospective and current students. The tuition freeze is being applied for the third consecutive year.
Some California lawmakers, including Senate Democrats, are proposing to halt tuition increases at UC and CSU campuses. Other states are considering similar restrictions. For example, three New Jersey lawmakers want to limit yearly tuition increases to 2 percent.
Arizona State University (ASU) officials also want to implement a tuition freeze for in-state students for the next few years.
Higher College Costs
However, other colleges across the nation are considering tuition increases to cover rising overhead. In December, UNC Asheville’s trustees recommended a 5 percent tuition increase for both in-state and out-of-state students. The unanimously approved resolution is still subject to approval by the UNC board of governors. If passed, the tuition hike would generate $1.8 million in funding.
Similarly, Western Carolina University’s trustees also recommended tuition and fee hikes for next year. The school recently approved a 3 percent tuition increase and an 8 percent increase in mandatory fees for next year.
State coffers are facing budget shortfalls due to a stagnant U.S. economy. Western Carolina has seen its student enrollment increase by nearly 40 percent over the past 10 years. However, it has also seen state budget reduction of about $39.5 million since the 2008-09 school year.
Smaller Tuition Hikes
Some states are proposing only marginal increases.
Rhode Island’s Board of Education wants to increase tuition at the state’s three public colleges for the first time in three years, but the hike would only be at 2.8 percent. Most of the new funds would be raised from out-of-state students, who would see increases of at least 8.5 percent.
In December, Mississippi's College Board approved plans for the state's eight public universities to raise tuition by an average of 3.2 percent.
More about Education, Tuition, College tuition, UCLA, UC college system
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