Be grateful, not cynical of the tuition increase

By Postie Editors

Imagine if there was a coupon in the Oakland Post for 2.96 percent off any meal in the Oakland Center Pioneer food court.

It certainly wouldn’t be much — it would only take off 5.2 cents off of a $2 meal.

Obviously, that’s not much of a bargain, even for Andy Griffith in the 60s. The same idea applies for Oakland University’s recent tuition increase.

The Board of Trustees approved the 2.96 percent increase for its 2012-13 undergraduate student tuition at their Aug. 6 meeting. Yes, it was 2.96 percent—or $10.25 more per credit hour.

There goes two Subway foot-longs or Little Caesars’ Hot-n-Ready pizzas. Or even more tragic — a six pack, the beloved staple of the college experience.

It’s even worse for the graduate students — they have to pay $17 dollars more per credit hour, a 2.94 percent increase. They will be missing about three and a half subs and pizzas and a couple six-packs.

True, any increase in tuition shouldn’t be called a positive. After all, it means students will be paying more money, which is usually never a favorable thing.

However, it will be rather ridiculous to hear any outraged students complaining about a 2.96 percent increase. Especially in light of the fact the average tuition increase in the last 10 years is 9.7 percent (including a 24 percent increase in 2006).

Placing the blame on the university is equally absurd. According to the general fund budget, state funding has decreased by 21.4 percent since fiscal year 2002, a cut of nearly $10 million. For the current fiscal year, OU received $43.1 million in state funding, the same as the previous year. The university has to be able to support the school, too, after all.

The problem is not the fault of a certain mechanism — it’s the fault of the overall design of the machine. Henry Baskin, chairman of the BOT, alluded to this issue at the Aug. 6 BOT meeting.

“At what point does it (raising tuition) stop? We don’t know. It’s a failed system,” Baskin said. “This (higher education) is a part of our country that needs attention. It’s not getting attention.”

Instead of students complaining about the woes of a 2.96 percent tuition increase, they should be grateful. Grateful that the increase is so slight and that the State of Michigan passed the current budget, which gave university’s one-time funding only if they kept the tuition increases at four percent or below.

Not surprisingly, many schools in Michigan pushed as far as they could go, increasing their funding upwards of 3.9 percent.

Be grateful OU didn’t do that.

Yes, if tuition continues to go up as it has in the past 15 years, this is a big problem that must be addressed and fixed. However, in context of the current increase, Grizzlies should consider themselves lucky.

If students care about how their money is spent, they should keep up with the news as it comes. Come to the future BOT meetings. They are free and the first step in taking action.

After all, students are the reason why Oakland University leaders have a job.


The staff editorial is written weekly by members of The Oakland Post’s editorial board.