Jet Protest

KU Against Rising Tuition protests outside of Chancellor Douglas Girod’s residence in opposition to increased costs. Opinion columnist Brett Knepper argues that the University should stop increasing tuition and instead help lessen the financial burden it imposes on its students.

Opinion

University of Kansas students may soon, once again, be under the impending pressure of increased tuition costs. According to an article by the Kansas City Star, “Legislators this week signaled they probably won’t approve a funding increase that university leaders say would allow them to keep tuition flat again.”

This all comes after the previous year’s enrollment having been flattened from the year prior, therefore helping keep many students in college.

But this is not what appears to be happening this upcoming academic year. Instead, students will be faced with further financial burden as the average cost of attending will increase from its current $10,182 average annual rate.

Should the University raise costs, the level of affordability for many students will drop. Maybe it’s time that the University, as well as other national public colleges, begin to quit thinking about their own financial success and start focusing on the students whose education they are meant to foster.

Colleges are places where students go in order to learn at the highest level possible before entering the workforce. These same institutions were once less needed in order to find work. That changed throughout the late 20th and early 21st centuries.

College has become something of a necessity in order to get a full-time job that pays enough to survive. In 2017, only around 65% of persons with no high school completion and 70% with only a high school degree between the ages of 25 and 34 were able to work full time and year round in the workforce. This is 10-15% under those of the same age who have a bachelor’s degree (80%).

For something that is a necessity, things remain difficult for students who aren’t going into college with much inherited familial wealth. According to a report by the National Administration of Student Financial Aid Administrators, more a third of colleges are only affordable to individuals with a family income over $100,000.

Should one even get accepted to a University, they may come out crippled by the weight of student loans.

“Between 1992 and 2012, the average amount owed by a typical student loan borrower who graduated with a bachelor's degree more than doubled to a total of nearly $27,000," according to the Department of Education.

The Kansas City Star also recently reported that while tuition revenue collected by Kansas universities grew by 53% over the last 10 years, state aid is only up a meager 2%. While it may be too much to expect tuition rates to stay frozen, it shouldn’t be much to ask for more financial aid for students who are struggling to meet the ever-growing costs of college.

Maybe the University could start reallocating its budget. Just last year, the college added a grand total of $8 million to the athletic budget. That is $8 million extra dollars that the students, some of who have to maintain full-time jobs just to afford the academic fees, could be utilizing for further financial support.

For now, it appears that there is nothing stopping the increase in tuition costs. But perhaps the University will come around and realize that it owes its students to try and help them succeed.

After all, without us, there would be no University of Kansas.

Brett Knepper is a sophomore from Newton, Kansas studying English creative writing.

Edited by Page Cramer