Friday, June 23, 2006

Thanks, Fellas

Hillary points us to an article in the Red & Black. The Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia has apparently locked tuition rates for your four years of school. That means, if you go to college at UGA, for your first four years of enrollemnent, tuition doesn't go up.

That reminds me of another problem we face in America today that always takes a back burner to the big, divisive issues: paying for college. Is tuition too expensive at public colleges and universities? Every time the college raises tuition on the student, they raise the cost almost three times as much on the taxpayer. Especially when certain University Presidents' wives make 30K a year just to host parties...

11 comments:

dadvocate said...

College tuition is way to expensive nowdays. When I started college back in ancient times (1969), I could attend the University of Tennessee as a full-time commuter student for less than $500 a year tuition and books. Even when adjusted for inflation, this is much less than what it costs now.

hillary said...

Every time the college raises tuition on the student, they raise the cost almost three times as much on the taxpayer.

Huh? Why is this the case at all? Isn't the university raising tuition because it can't get that money from the state? Does the taxpayer pay his taxes in lottery tickets? More explanation please.

Patrick Armstrong said...

This is something I've been told by various college administrators, but it makes perfect sense to me. At a public institution, in-state students are subsidized by the taxpayer. That's why there is such a difference between in state and out of state tuition.

At UGA the difference between in state to out of state is, respectively, (+/-) $4600 per year vs. $16,800 per year.

It is very difficult to find out the real cost-per-taxpayer of Georgia higher education, so I may be way off base with my oversimplification. I do know the 'we're raising tuition because of state cutbacks' is a bunch of 'myth propogated by the system.'

According to University of Georgia President Michael Adams, despite state funding setbacks (only $430.8M this year), the University has more than made up the difference through research grants, endowments and other revenue sources. Tuition alone made up 13% of UGA's $1.3B budget. (PDF format, first two pages)

Of course, this could just be the University System transferring more of the cost from the state to the student, (PDF, Long Read). But I'd bet they're transferring more of that cost to financial aid, a different taxpayer subsidized way the Universities make money.

The Washington Post makes some mention of tuition costs to the taxpayer.

Here is another interesting examination of the college tuition situation. (Long read, though)

After reading all of these things, my opinion has not changed. Colleges raise tuition and it affects students and taxpayers in a very direct way. They have absolutely no incentive to stop raising tuition, they make more money every time they do so, and they have a battery of ready-made 'reasons' to feed to the general public as to why this happens. The student, and the taxpayer, get the screws put to them, and college President's wives still get their money.

petallic said...

Hm, it depends. Is she organizing the parties? Planning them, like a real event planner? If that is the case, how many parties per year? 10? 20? There's a chance she's actually being underpaid. Event planning is big business.

Or is she just showing up in an expensive gown, mingling, and playing hostess?

I'm not ready to throw stones just 'cause she gets paid to work...if she's actually working. Women have been working for free throughout history (Eleanor Roosevelt, anyone?); I don't mind her getting paid for actual work. Wives don't come with the husband's contract; if they want her to work, they should pay her accordingly.

petallic said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Patrick Armstrong said...

I have no problem with women getting paid for work - if they're actually working. I have no problem with University Presidents getting paid, either. But I think this is a little over the top.

petallic said...

Which part of that do you think is over-the-top, Patrick? I saw nothing that particularly upset me. In fact, it sounds to me like he goes out of his way to cross his t's and whatnot. Golfing is expensive in Scotland, though $3000 sounds a bit steep, but he paid it back.

Part of his job is to wine and dine people. I don't think $226.00 for a meal for 4 sounds exorbitant; after all, where would you like for him to take people? Taco Stand?

Let me give you an example of the red tape we educators have to go through to get reimbursed: a club that I sponsored at school bought gifts for some of the community parents who helped us out. Do you want to know what I had to do to prove that we spent the money on what I said we spent the money on? I had to get the gift recipients to sign off on the receipts! How unbelievably tacky is that?

I don't mean to defend the guy; I have no opinion about him one way or another. But give me an ax and show me where to point it; tell me what about this is supposed to be upsetting. I do wish the article gave some description of exactly what Mrs. Adams does, but other than that, I see no reason to be terribly fussed.

hillary said...

According to University of Georgia President Michael Adams, despite state funding setbacks (only $430.8M this year), the University has more than made up the difference through research grants, endowments and other revenue sources. Tuition alone made up 13% of UGA's $1.3B budget.

1) Then why does the university continue to have trouble meeting the needs of its students (for example, offering enough sections of particular required classes)? And why is there continual fuss about hiring freezes and whatnot? Research money goes to research, not into a big pot that can be doled out to everyone.

2) Here's something I don't quite get about "tuition." Does what HOPE covers count as that?

3) Are you going to argue Georgia's not still ridiculously cheap?

4) Where did you get your tripling taxes figure anyway?

5) Do you have a problem with taxes funding higher education?

Patrick Armstrong said...

1) Because they keep letting in more students than faculty & staff can handle.

2) I assume so. Even though that is paid by another entity in the State, for reporting purposes, HOPE covers in-state tuition. (Though I would love to see a breakdown of how much tuition is covered by HOPE, other loans, VA and personal checks.)

3) No. Georgia is a very good bang for the buck. That' still doesn't mean it can't be better.

4) I've been told by various University administrators (from different Universities) that the true cost of a college education can be calculated by the out-of-state tuition. When I asked why in-state and out-of-state tuition was so different, the answer was always: "The State makes up the difference for in-state students." That says to me "education subsidy" and "the taxpayers make up the difference."

While I have no scholarly or budgetary evidence to back this up, I am confident that this is the case. Again, I also must offer that I could be very wrong, and out of state students are just charged about 3X more for arbitrary reasons.

5) Not in the least bit. But I do have a problem with tax dollars being spent inefficiently. I also have a problem with people in 'educational leadership' positions bilking students and taxpayers to increase the bottom line.

hillary said...

I also have a problem with people in 'educational leadership' positions bilking students and taxpayers to increase the bottom line.

Dude. It's not a for-profit institution. There is not a bunch of cash to spare lying in piles around the university. Yes, there are administrators' positions and salaries that could probably be cut, but that's the case at many a place, including Walmart no doubt.

If you don't think UGA needs to increase tuition, then presumably you do think it should be fully funded according to the formula the state uses. Or maybe you don't. The thing is, they can't let all the extra students in without also coughing up some more moolah.

Laddi said...

Looong read, but hopefully will help.

1) Because they keep letting in more students than faculty & staff can handle.

False. The university has a student-enrollment cap, has met it, and total enrollment has stayed reasonably in measure with it. The problem is the decreases in funding has left the university short-staffed. Same result (troubling student-to-staff ratio), but wrong attribution of the cause.

2) I assume so. Even though that is paid by another entity in the State, for reporting purposes, HOPE covers in-state tuition. (Though I would love to see a breakdown of how much tuition is covered by HOPE, other loans, VA and personal checks.)

HOPE covers all of tuition. If tuition were set at $50K per student (in-state), HOPE is OBLIGATED to pay it. The sticky part is STUDENT FEES. Student fees are the "above tuition" parts of mandatory tuition and fees (athletic fees, health fees, transportation [read: buses], and a couple of others) that are bundled automatically into the "cost of tuition". If you take 1 class or 5 classes, the student fee amount doesn't change and isn't completely covered by HOPE at some institutions. And there's going to be a RUDE awakening in the upcoming years about HOPE vs. student fees, even factoring in this "fixed tuition rate". Remember, they're only fixing TUITION. They can't rightly fix student fees. Currently, the $150 book allowance is covering the student fee amount that isn't covered in the "tuition" portion of HOPE, with some change leftover going to the student. In the not too distant future, those student fees now being covered by the book allowance will exceed the $150 book allowance amount, and a LOT of students (and more so parents) will end up surprised and upset when they are asked to pony up money toward "tuition".

3) No. Georgia is a very good bang for the buck. That' still doesn't mean it can't be better.

If you're out-of-state it supposedly still is ranking #10 in Kiplinger's list of out-of-state. I don't see how, but Kiplinger is pretty good about assessing this information.

4) "The State makes up the difference for in-state students." That says to me "education subsidy" and "the taxpayers make up the difference."

That is generally correct. That's why it a big deal when university administrators fight for more state funds. State funds naturally are state tax money. The taxpayers pay A LOT into colleges and universities all across the state. At this point in time, I believe (not 100% sure) that about 3 or 4 years ago, the university cancelled all subsidy for our out-of-state students, and they now pay every penny of their cost of education (with many GA taxpayers glad because of it since "they should go to school at home!"). So comparing out-of-state to in-state tuition will give you a good idea of the per student cost not covered by in-state tuition for UGA students.

HOWEVER, the State is not obligated to pay the difference. That's the bigger issue and why, when the state allocates less to the universities, you see even larger leaps in tuition, to try to help cover previous year deficits.

Which brings us to the ridiculously ridiculous decision by the Board of Regents to fix tuition costs. Someone in one of the open threads discussed the Board of Regents decision at length. Looking through, I believe it was the only anonymous remark, so search the page. Here's a pertinent quote (btw, I assume the statement "when tuition is cut" to mean that set tuition is effectively a "tuition cut" for entering students, since they will in essence have a built-in tuition break after the first year.:

"If tuition is cut, who is going to make up the difference in the money foregone? The state will likely NOT make up the total difference. Future students, students without HOPE, and the out-of-state students will help make up the difference. And of course, the taxpayers will, because even though funding may be cut now, that doesn't mean state funds won't be increased to make up the difference in the future, and that means more taxes."

It's a little of a long read but is an editorial regarding the (poor) decision by the BoR. And folks, this decision came as a surprise to 99.9% of the people in higher ed who should have been warned.

It seems though the Board of Regents is hoping to force the state to send more money to state universities, instead of placing the burden on the students. That means the Board of Regents is effectively saying the taxpayers aren't paying enough for higher education. However, this is a huge gamble since the state doesn't have to. Likewise, the set cost of tuition is so much lower than you would expect for a 4-year-cost-fix, that the impending deficit may reach easily into the millions per year. That's a LOT of jobs left unfilled, technology lagging, and services cut.

And I can guarantee you, higher administrator salaries aside, the university is NOT a fat pig right now. There's not much fat left to cut. The repercussions of this decision could cause hurt the big state universities in a meaningful and possibly detrimental way that could take years to recover from.