Tuition is going up again at the University of Minnesota.
The Board of Regents has approved a 4.5 percent increase in each of the next two years. It's a tough row to hoe for students at the U, but the increases are nowhere near as startling as the ones earlier in this decade.
From 2002 to 2004, tuition at the U rose 13.3, 14.7 and 12 percent in each of the years. Last year, tuition rose 7.25 percent.
Very little in American life has risen faster than the cost of a year in college. At a recent forum, Rep. Peter Welch of Vermont said if the price of milk had risen as fast, we'd be paying $15 a gallon. The average cost of a four-year college is just under $50,000. (The College Board counters that nearly half of college students are in schools that charge $3,000 to $6,000 per year).
Some lawmakers are targeting schools with rich endowments. The say schools should dig deeper into their cash to make college more affordable. Harvard, for example, has an $18 billion endowment. The U of M, by contrast, has an endowment valued at about $3 billion. That's far less, but it was the 6th highest among public universities according to a 2003 survey at the U.
My guess if you went and talked with the University of Minnesota Foundation you would find that the U is using just about all the money they can from their endowments.
To endow something means: "to provide with a permanent fund or source of income"
You actually don't use the money in the endowments, you use the money from the earnings of the endowments. This means the purpose of the endowment goes on forever. Sometimes money is accepted for a purpose that becomes obselete so that make a particular endowment problematic - there is not a use for the money.
Most endowments have some wording that allows for a redirecting of the earnings, some do not. The real problem with tuition and university funding is that the percentage of payments to public universities by states has declined.
Unlike secondary schools, many colleges have had to make dramatic changes because of this decrease in funding. The U has dropped or merged colleges and even cut back the extension service.
Because some can not afford their education they just won't be going to school. This can lead to the lack of skilled employees as employers look at Minnesota as a place to locate.
It also can lead to lack of innovation - which leads to new businesses for the state - because the U has less funds to do research. Eventually the lack new business development can lead to the decrease in property values due to lower paying jobs or lack of demand for property.
So rather than the U and other schools using some of their endowment principal, lets have the state review its investment in education and determine what is the best level to fund higher education so we get the best value for our dollars.
Bob, the NYT article you cite about the cost of tuition states that $50,000 is the average for *private* colleges.
The American Council of Education (c.f. NYT you cited) claims that only 3% of college students are at schools charging over $25,000. I simply cannot accept that as true. Unless this figure counts every single person enrolled in every single college in the USA, regardless of whether they are full-time or not. In other words, the vast number of people attending community colleges part-time and high-school students taking college courses would really skew the math.
The government needs to get over the obsession with "it's bad for govn't to "subsidize" things". Sen. Grassley claimed it "was only fair to ask whether universities were doing enough for society, given that the value of their tax exemption, in the 2007 fiscal year, was more than $17 billion".
$17 billion vs. millions of jobs being sent overseas because we don't have enough Americans educated to do them.
The reason public universities are charging more is not because they are not getting enough money from the state. It is because they are trying to compete with private colleges with all the bell & whistles. If you look at the campuses of Mankato State, SCSU, North Hennepin C.C., and the U of M, you will see a lot of money has been spent of building fancy new buildings and landscaping. They are also blowing a lot of money on continually updating their computers, etc... Let the students buy there own computers, as students need a computer anyway. Put the money toward tuition! Universities have been using the same lame excuse for tuition increases for almost 2 decades: states aren't investing in education. However, if you actually go and look at the budget of MN, you will see they have been getting almost all of what they have been asking for.