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The Sentinel

An Eye on the Penn State Administration


Rising Tuition Burdens Our Citizens, Say Student Leaders

Editor’s Note: This blog post originally appeared on the website of “Safeguarding Traditions Of Penn State,” which was the precursor to Safeguard Old State. It appears here for posterity.

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Penn State’s rising tuition costs are pricing the average Pennsylvania student out of the market. First discussed this past Monday, Sept. 18 on The LION 90.7fm‘s Radio Free Penn State public affairs talk show, the skyrocketing tuition costs for the average student may already be negatively affecting the diversity of the student body.

The Daily Collegian follows Radio Free’s lead with an editorial that appeared yesterday entitled, “Penn State tuition: Raising tuition makes PSU elitist“:

The Penn State Board of Trustees approved a request of $365 million in appropriations from the state government for the 2006-2007 year.

Yet despite asking for money, the administration is already factoring in another tuition increase for next year. They’re not even waiting to see how much money the state will give them to help defray students’ costs.

Though Penn State President Graham Spanier said the university is trying “to keep tuition as low as possible,” a Penn State education is out of reach for many working class Pennsylvanians.

But the university just welcomed the largest freshman class in history.

So, with that many people wanting to come to Penn State, what motivation does the Board of Trustees have to keep tuition low?

It is clear that, despite tuition increases, people are still willing to pay up for a chance to come to Penn State.

But they will be different people than they used to be. Upper middle class students who don’t have a part-time job and drive their own car will populate the university. They may represent higher academic standards, but they may also represent more money.

Lower income students will disappear from Penn State. Instead of providing an opportunity for the average Pennsylvanian to receive a quality education, Penn State is increasingly becoming an elitist institution with little room for those of a lower income level.

How many of your friends are truly worried about their tuition come semester bill time?

Lower income students will attend branch campuses or other state universities where tuition is lower.

Or, they will go out of state to some private institutions that have managed to keep tuition low.

As a result, they do not have access to educational opportunities at University Park. And a University Park education should be readily available
for students of all income levels.

If tuition and fees continue to rise, the Board of Trustees must accept that working class Pennsylvanians will no longer be able to afford Penn State.

And if that is the case, no longer will the university be able to put itself in the position as being a premier state institution.

It will be an elitist institution that does not represent the values and ideals the university was founded upon in 1855.

Ultimately it won’t just be the average working Pennsylvanian youth suffering, it’ll be Penn State University itself. As much as this school loves to tout “diversity” as its main mantra, one of the most important and organic kinds of diversity will be lost with rising tuition costs that price a Penn State education out of reach for many working class folks.

I am fortunate enough to attend Penn State because my family is well off, and while we aren’t rich, we’re secure enough that they can help me along while I focus on my students and extra-curricular life in State College without having to worry constantly about money.

Diversity goes far beyond the issue of one’s skin color. With so many students still coming to Penn State and the largest freshman class ever at University Park, President Spanier and Co. don’t really have much of a reason to make lowering tuition as much of a priority as they pretend.

As Pennsylvanians attending a land-grant institution, we deserve to be able to attend without yearly tuition increases of over five percent burdening us. We should be able to attend with the confidence that, should we decide to remain in Pennsylvania, our children and grandchildren will be able to enjoy an affordable and high-quality education here as well.

Not everyone’s income is as large as that of President Spanier.

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