Sunday Morning Shout Out


Place this in the category of things that shouldn’t be.  Place the context and meaning of this information next to chokehold, noose, stranglehold, slavery, debtor prisons.  Not only is tuition rising faster than a chain smoker’s plume of smoke, room and board is as well.

What is going on here?  A recent article entitled, “Think Tuition is Rising Fast? Try Room and Board,” at the NPR Ed website chronicles this disturbing trend.  The article states that according to the College Board, public four- year universities have increased their room and board rates by nine percent above inflation in the past five years.  At private colleges, rates have increased by six percent above inflation.  It goes on to explain that without the inflation adjustment, room and board fees have increased by 20 percent for public universities and 17 percent by private institutions , since 2009.  This nearly matches the tuition increases that have occurred at public universities, with a 21 percent increase in tuition being found in the same time period.  For private universities, it has grown 13 percent.

What does this mean outside moral indignation for most parents and students?  It means that their children are likely assuming greater debt to go to college, than ever before.  The article gives an example of a student who had a full scholarship, outside room and board, text books, and medical insurance while at school.  She won it based on the strength of her test scores in high school.  She also qualified for the maximum Federal Pell Grant of $5,730 for low income students and worked a campus job.  These factors aside, she still took out $11,500 for her fourth year to pay for what was not covered with awarded money at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.  The bulk of her expenses, $11,000 was for room and board!

Why is this occurring?  In a seemingly“ smoke and mirrors” fashion, state legislators are receiving more and more pressure from the public to maintain or lower tuition costs at public universities.  Rather than raising tuition, this article strongly suggests that universities have raised the cost of room and board to stay afloat or profit and keep tuition “down” or “maintained” at current levels.  The article speculates on the other reasons why room and board is soaring.  It discussed how universities, both private and public have gotten caught up in catering to students—from having luxury dorms and personal chefs in dining halls to diverse food choices, recipes, etc.

This has cost money.  Staffing, union fees, and the need to refurbish antiquated dormitories were also cited as reasons for such sharp increases.  The bottom line is that non affluent students are being priced out of schooling.  –Neither choice!  While students can commute or try to find affordable off campus housing, both options are not always feasible because of distance or similar trends in the off campus housing market.  The choice comes down to not going to college to avoid such debt or for many students, assuming a great amount of financial debt for a college education.  Neither choice is acceptable!  We are quickly becoming a nation of College Education Debtors and like the Great Recessions housing bubble ‘pop’ it is quickly reaching a crisis point.

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