Thursday, June 7, 2012

Big Education

Radford University approved across-the-board tuition, fees, and room and board increases recently. Tuition will go up by 3.2% on top of last year’s 8.1% increase. The total average cost for a full time, undergraduate, in-state student for the 2012-2013 academic year go from $15,909 to about $16,600 depending on what room and meal plan is chosen. UVA had a 3.7% increase recently for the up-coming school year. The total average annual cost there for a full-time student is now $25,400. At Tech, it’s $17,365. According to a report from the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV), the average annual cost for a full time undergraduate resident in-state student in 2002 – 2003 was $9648. That’s an average for all of the Virginia state supported colleges and universities, so we can’t compare it to any individual institution; but, if we do a little quick math we see that the average annual cost next school year for Tech, UVA, and RU will be $19,558. Compared to the 2002-2003 data from the SCHEV report, there has been about a 100% increase in the last ten years. On average at those three institutions, a four-year college education will now cost roughly $80,000. If this trend continues, as is likely, the cost will double again in the next ten years. We’ll be up to $160,000 on average for a college degree at Tech/UVA/RU. In other states, the picture is similar. By way of contrast, I estimate that my total four-year college education in the Engineering School at UVA cost in the range of $12,500. Total, for everything. In this environment of skyrocketing costs, one would presume that colleges are having to drastically cut back on everything. However, if you visit any of these college and stroll around, you notice something odd. There doesn’t seem to be any shortage of money. These institutions don’t seem to be living on any a restricted budget. Quite the contrary, they seem to have plenty of money. At RU, a Taj Mahal of a building is being completed, at a cost of $44 million, to house the College of Business and Economics. Other RU buildings have undergone major renovations in recent years costing many millions of dollars. You see similar phenomena at Tech and UVA. There doesn’t seem to be any concern about where the money is going to come from. Meanwhile, tuition has gone ballistic. Given all of this, do you hear any talk about “greedy big education” or “fat cat” college executives? Do you hear about price gouging? Are the “occupy” groups protesting ? Are there any calls for congressional investigations? Are college presidents being summoned to Washington or Richmond? Is anyone in the educational system being called to task? No, none of that is happening, as with those evil Wall Street fat cats or with “big oil”. Big education is somehow immune. The reason for this disparity is that big education is full of left-wing liberals and Marxists. Not all college and universities are dominated by liberal extremists, but by and large they are. Many college professors eagerly use their classroom to indoctrinate impressionable minds about the mean conservatives and the good liberals. Liberal politicians aren’t about to attack big education for out-of-control costs or for anything else. Liberal politicians know the vital role big education plays in furthering their political goals and in keeping them in office. However, even the politicians can’t ignore those high tuitions. Their solution is to throw more money at colleges via the student loan program. Here’s how it works. Politicians take taxpayer money and loan it to college students so they can pay the sky-high costs. Students are encouraged to do this; you hear ads on radio and TV about the availability of government money for student loans. As a result, the students run up huge loan balances that will be a severe financial burden to them for the rest of their lives. The politicians then talk about the need for very low interest on those huge loan balances, or that the loans should be forgiven outright, or other relief programs. The former students then love those politicians for getting them out of their financial nightmare and they keep voting for those same politicians. The net result is that vast sums of money, much of it coming from the taxpayers, are shoveled toward the colleges. There is no significant public outcry about the ever-rising tuition and other costs, and the colleges roll merrily along turning out those liberal voters to perpetuate the whole thing.