Misplaced state priorities make tuition increases inevitable


The Appalachian Online

Kevin Griffin

Responding to the requests from UNC schools, the Board of Governors has officially approved a tuition increase of 4.3 percent on average for in-state students the 2015-16 school year, according to the News & Observer.

Tuition for Appalachian State University students will increase from $6,438 this year to $6,719 next year, according to the News & Observer.

News of tuition increases is likely unwelcome for all students in the system, but the rise in tuition is an inevitable result of years of misplaced political priorities by state leaders.

A May 2014 study by the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities found that while many states were funding higher education at pre-recession levels, many had started increasing funding on education. Eight states had not, including North Carolina, which cut funding per-student 2.3 percent.

All of this goes back to the mindset of the Republican leadership that dominates the state. There is no doubt the recession was going to affect higher education, but the priorities of state lawmakers can make an important difference.

Republican lawmakers pushed through personal and corporate tax cuts in 2013 in the hopes that the cuts would benefit the state economy.

However, we now know that the effect of these tax cuts has been to cost the state far more than originally projected. Tax cuts cost the state $680 million, while the original estimate was $475 million, according to a July 2014 analysis from researchers in the Fiscal Research Division.

Between the current year and 2018, the costs of the tax cuts are projected to outpace the original forecasts.

The diminished state revenue that results from this hampers our ability to fund education, at all levels, going forward.

For university students, this means higher tuition to make up for the loss. This unfortunately places a burden on students, particularly low-income students and hinders access to higher education.

Given North Carolina’s historical and constitutional dedication to education, this is disgraceful. The leaders of the state have put us in this position thanks to these inadvisable policy decisions.

Certainly there should be a change in favor of students in which the government cares about the appropriate level of public support for higher education. At this point, a change in leadership is the only option.

Griffin, a junior journalism major from Madison, is an opinion writer.

STORY: Kevin Griffin, Opinion Writer