Tuition Cost Shift Hurts State's Future (Opinion)

Tim Goral's picture
Thursday, May 31, 2012

University tuition increases of a seemingly modest $254 per year were nevertheless high enough to send thousands of angry student protesters into the streets, leading to more than 700 arrests last week -- in Montreal.

It hasn't come to that on Minnesota's side of the border. But unusually sharp unhappiness has been registered locally this spring over proposed tuition increases of a similar scale at the University of Minnesota and the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities (MnSCU).

Those student laments are the latest signals of the need for change in the pattern of paying for public higher education. For at least two decades, an ever-larger share of college costs has shifted from taxpayers to students, their families and their futures.

That shift is taking an increasingly damaging social, economic and political toll. Those most directly affected are calling on the rest of us to pay heed.

Compared with some years in the past decade, the proposed increases at the state's two public systems don't seem unduly steep -- unless you're an already overworked college student racking up debt. On average, Minnesota students graduate with $29,000 in college-related debts.

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