Hello everyone and thanks for stopping by. We are childhood friends who grew up, graduated college, and now have our very own blog. Living the dream, right? Since kindergarten, we’ve tackled topics ranging from travel to science to sports to food to politics to technology to religion. Expect posts on all of the above and more from us, as well as a guest column or two.
Monday, January 16, 2012
Cutting College Costs
On Thursday, Michigan state Senator Rebekah Warren (D-Ann
Arbor) brought a bill before
the state legislature calling for the state to fund the lion’s hare of the cost
of attending a Michigan university for four years for in-state, public school
Let me be clear: making college more affordable is not a bad
thing. But the bill itself seems to be about as half-baked as the Daily’s
editorial supporting it*. We know that state support for universities has been dwindling. We know that those cuts are often the result of budget shortfalls. So
if we take a billion dollars (give or take; actual estimate: $1.8 billion) from
the annual state budget what will we get? More shortfalls! How is that in any way
sustainable!? Michigan 2020 certainly has a noble purpose, and at least starts
a conversation that we need to be having, but it also represents a
short-sighted solution to a much more systemic problem: college is really
expensive. If a college degree is critical to social mobility and improving
one’s lot in life (all that “American Dream” stuff), the cancer of prohibitive tuition costs deserves a lot
more than the band-aid measure proposed here.
Money? Good. Michigan 2020? Super good! Also, please buy that picture we took of Denard last year.”
Anyways, all this talk is pretty useless if I just sit there
and yell “you’re doing it wrong*.” So, without further ado, here are three
ways to knock down the cost of college and make post-secondary education more
accessible to everyone:
1. Four downs: enough for football, enough for
A rather handsome writer for the University
of Wisconsin’s independent student
newspaper made a similar (and excellent) argument here.
Briefly, in-state tuition represents a tremendous discount; there is a
substantial gap in funding made up by state/federal/miscellaneous dollars.
Students should only have access to that discount for four years. After that,
they can still go to school, they should just free up that money for someone
else and pay the true cost of their education.
2. Trade in the Caddy for a Kia
Four year residential universities are a
great experience. And it’s a rather slippery slope for me to tell people to
forego experiences that I’ve thoroughly enjoyed myself. However, if college
really IS getting too expensive and students really ARE suffocating under
massive debt burdens upon graduation, why aren’t more people taking cheaper
routes to four-year degrees*? Community and technical colleges are fine places
to take introductory courses at a fraction of the price. Students struggling
financially should consider delaying matriculation at the University of
Minnesota (and the price tag that comes with it) for a year
at Inver Hills – especially if they are not yet sure what they want to
major in. It may not have leather trim, frat parties, or football games, but it gets damn good gas mileage.
*Another option would be three-year degree programs - an approach being explored by THE Ohio State Government.
3. Stick a fork in sports
That last sentence physically hurt to write
and will probably never come true precisely because of jerks like me*. BUT,
when sports represent a losing venture for most schools,
there is no reason to keep them around. If anyone needs to subsidize the
athletic department to keep it running (so basically everyone but 25 or so Division I schools), well, screw the athletic department. Take that money and
use it for scholarships**, professor salaries, or chemistry labs, anything but flights to Maui for the basketball team or meal vouchers for swimmers.
*I actually chose my
undergraduate school based on a blocked punt and the fact that the Gophers
still played in the half-empty roller dome. And, of course, the fact that Iowa fans were able to do this inside the Metrodome.