Once again, Eastern is placing the weight of solving the university’s budget problems on students’ backs. Most agree tuition and fee increases were inevitable.
Legislators in Frankfort have put higher education on the chopping block time and time again – hacking away and giving universities less and less funding.
All colleges only have three main sources of revenue: state appropriations, (where the bulk of universities get their funding) tuition and private monies.
Eastern’s money for 2003-2004 from the state was cut by $4.5 million from earlier projections – leaving the school with a difficult choice: cut programs, faculty and staff or raise tuition.
Most of us like small class sizes and want courses to be offered at convenient times.
Cutting faculty would hurt the quality of the academic experience at Eastern – there’s no doubt about that.
However, Eastern went overboard with its tuition and fee increases.
Eastern justifies the increases by saying it is still the lowest costing regional comprehensive university in the state. However, being the lowest doesn’t make it affordable for everyone.
The increases are just too high for the region Eastern serves – one with high poverty rates.
Because Eastern is more affordable than other universities in the state, if students can’t afford Eastern they can’t afford to attend anywhere.
Eastern recognizes first-generation college students and seems proud it has offered a chance for higher education to these students.
With the increases, however, the university will inevitably see fewer and fewer first-generation students at Eastern.
The university is currently in the process of reviewing some of its course offerings and departmental structures .
Instead of jumping the gun and raising tuition drastically, Eastern should have increased the tuition slightly and then waited to see how some of the cost adjustments affect the university before making a final decision.
Some administrators and Eastern officials say despite tuition and fee increases, Eastern is still the best value.
While that may be true, this increase may deprive too many perspective and current Eastern students of a higher educational opportunity.
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