Editorial highlights ‘tuition trauma’

A message from President Di Pasquale, Oct. 14, 2009

I want to share an editorial with the college community that ran in The Providence Journal (“Tuition Trauma,” Oct. 9, 2009), which highlights Rhode Island higher education’s financial struggles during these challenging economic times.

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Tuition Trauma

A series of staggering increases in tuition at Rhode Wand’s public colleges in recent years is making education ever less affordable for poor and middle-class families. That is a sad reflection of the General Assembly’s long-held policy of favoring public-employee retirement and other cushy benefits over other priorities, and of the high cost of having 39 cities and towns in this tiny state.

The Assembly’s failure to deliver on earlier budget promises as It grapples with massive deficits forced the state Board of Governors for Higher Education on Monday to hike tuition and fees at the University of Rhode lsland by 10 percent(to $10,476, with another $11,093 for room and board), and at Rhode Island College by 9 percent (to $6986, with another $9,519 for room and board). The board boosted tuition for the Community College of Rhode Island 8 percent to $3.652.

Chairman Frank Caprio had it just about right “Every time we do, this, we make it less affordable and less accessible And we are disenfranchising many young people whose only chance out of poverty is education.”

The hikes also pose a serious danger of making URI uncompetitive with other state universities, though, it must be said, other states are hiking their college prices this year, too. For instance, the University of Massachusetts raised its tuition 15 percent and the University of Connecticut 6 percent.

URl has made ends meet in recent years by aggressively recruiting non-Rhode Islanders, who pay considerably higher rates than do in-staters.

Since 2008 tuition and fees have increased 64 percent at URI, 75 percent at RlC and 72 percent at CCRl --even as the median family income has fallen, especially for those toiling in the private sector.

It’s not as if taxpayers are not already paying for first-rate education. Rhode Islanders are among the most heavily taxed people in America. Yet the state has seen fit to devote a smaller share of its budget to higher education than other states (such as Virginia) whose public officials grasp that public higher education is vital to creating jobs, helping young people escape poverty and improving the quality of life.

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