posted on: Thursday September 23, 2010
by Ewen Finser ’12 / Commentary Staff
As I am sure many students here at Providence College are aware, the cost of receiving a higher education is on the rise. At the same time, many institutions are seeking to cut costs in the name of the current economy malaise. Of course, any well-administered institution like PC has plenty of reasons (or is “excuses” the right word?) for tacking on fees and raising tuition rates. Most recently, students here on campus were shocked to find they will now be charged for printing. Environmental responsibility sounds like a plausible explanation, but let’s be real; charging for printing will save the college money, so playing the “green” card seems a tad disingenuous. Expanding it to the national level, higher tuition rates and the expanded use of various “fees” have become the new norm. Much like the real estate housing bubble that led in part to the recent economic crisis, the costs of attending college are rising faster than many students’ ability to pay. All the while, students spend increasingly less time in the classroom and more time on break. So what is the solution? Shouldn’t the government get involved to put a stop to this insanity? It might appear logical to suggest that the federal government expand its role in financial assistance and college grants for students. Indeed, why not make college assistance like social security for seniors, creating another entitlement system? Not so fast. The various and sundry grants offered by the federal government are actually a part of the problem. In fact, the government is already subsidizing tuition rate hikes. Colleges love students who pay full tuition, but as long as students are making money receiving funds from the government, they have the perfect cover to justify higher tuition rates. Before we know it, our education system might start resembling our current health care system, where the transaction between customer (patient/student) and product (healthcare/college) is distorted and is farmed out for the government to deal with.