Tuition hikes fail students

In the face of yet another tuition hike even as the economy slides into a recession, students will find it harder than ever to fund their Wash. U. education in the coming school year. This year, many private universities saw their pool of applicants shrink as many prospective students instead applied to public universities in hopes of finding affordable higher education. We believe that the large increase in tuition represents a failure on the part of Wash. U. to prioritize affordable education by not taking account for potential sticker shock at a time when economic sensitivity is needed most. The increase will make a Wash. U. education even more difficult to afford for many, and it discourages prospective students from applying to an institution that they are unable to afford.

Last week, Wash. U. announced that yearly tuition for undergraduates will rise to $37,800 — a 4.4% increase over last year’s tuition of $36,200. This exorbitant sum does not even include food, housing and other student fees, which can bring the total price tag to more than $50,000 for some students. This would be an incredible cost for most families even in times of economic prosperity, and in the current climate, it is even farther out of reach.

To its credit, the University has already pledged to set aside funds to assist current Wash. U. students who find themselves suddenly unable to afford the cost of a Wash. U. education. We hope that Wash. U. delivers on this pledge, and truly does offer additional assistance to those who need it.

However, it is undeniable that the large tuition increase will place a great burden even on those whose financial resources are not drastically diminished by the ailing economy. And despite the help that Wash. U. claims it will offer to some, undoubtedly there will be some current students who simply cannot afford an increase.

The rapidly rising costs of a Wash. U. education will have a detrimental effect on prospective students as well. Many bright students who lack the resources to afford a Wash. U. education may be discouraged from attending or even applying in the first place, preferring instead to attend an affordable public institution. This is bad not only for these students, but for the University itself, as it runs the risk of losing many low- and middle-income prospective students to other schools.

Some may argue that the tuition increase is a necessary evil. With rising costs and a dwindling endowment, the University has to raise money somehow. We don’t deny these realities. However, with many large and expensive building and beautification projects recently completed and in the works, it seems as if Wash. U. needs to do a better job of focusing its priorities. Affordable education should take precedence over such expenses.

We hope that Wash. U. comes through with its pledges to help soften the blow of this increase on its students. And, in the future, it is important that the University remain true to the mission of ensuring that education is accessilble to all.


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