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Higher Tuition Rates Cause Concern at College Campuses in Handful of States

Michigan State
University senior Katie Wright
worries college tuition is rising so fast that some working-class families,
including her own, may soon find higher education unaffordable.

Michigan is one of a handful of states where tuition at some
public universities will increase by nearly 10 percent or more headed into the
fall semester. Four-year public schools in Illinois, Colorado and Oklahoma also
plan tuition increases that could at least triple the general inflation rate.

The typical bill for a full-time in-state undergraduate at
Michigan State will climb by roughly $800 this academic year under the current
plan, a 9.6 percent increase putting the annual tuition and fee bill past
$9,500 in some cases. That doesn’t include room and board.

“I’ve been worried about paying for this year
constantly, just figuring out how it’s going to work out,” said Wright, a
zoology major who hopes to become a veterinarian. “For people who don’t
necessarily have a lot of money … I think they’re going to be pushing those
people out.”

This week, the U.S. House passed legislation to lower
interest rates on student loans and increase Pell grant aid to poor people who
want to go to college. Several state universities, while adopting higher
tuition rates, also are expanding financial aid programs to try and keep access
open for a diverse student body.

Nationwide, college tuition typically increases much faster
than general inflation. While tuition escalation has slowed somewhat in recent
years, this summer’s round of increases indicate there are pockets in the United
States where the trend toward smaller hikes
won’t hold.

The states hardest hit often have struggling economies
or other government budget problems that have limited the amount of general
state taxpayer aid going to public universities.

– Associated Press

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