Higher education for a higher cost, and all at once?

In the final edition of the Herald last semester, President Gary Ransdell wrote a commentary introducing a long-term tuition plan in which a student could pay one lump sum for four years worth of tuition. One reason this was created was to avoid certain unforeseen tuition increases due to state budget cuts and necessary campus improvements.

The four-year tuition plan includes a 5 percent increase for the 2006-07 and 2007-08 school years. According to Ransdell, state universities, such as Eastern Kentucky University, raised tuition by as much as 19 percent in one year. This lump sum tuition sounds like a deal – especially for those who time and time again complain about the increasing price of a higher education, which is a trend they should become accustomed to and almost expect.

But is this lump sum plan realistic? Who will participate? Only one student has signed up for this tuition plan thus far. Is it feasible for a university to expect its students, or its students’ guardians to fork over $21,141 (in-state) or $52,833 (out-of-state) at once?

This tuition plan seems plausible in theory, but it’s far from realistic. With huge amounts of students relying on financial aid, it’s obvious that many students have a hard time affording one semester, let alone eight at once.

Is this way of cutting corners on raising tuition helping those who need the help? Or is it merely benefitting those who can already afford to pay tuition increases?

Maybe the university should provide a locked yearly tuition increase rate for its students. Give them a price and increase it by 5 percent or whatever necessary to afford a budget for campus improvements. This would allow students who can’t invest in the lump sum tuition plan to at least forecast the increasing tuition into their budgets ahead of time.

The budget cuts to higher education have forced Western’s administration to scramble for ways to fix the budget. This is similar to how many Western students feel every semester when tuition increases are announced.

These students need help paying for school. So instead of pushing a plan to help the fortunate, maybe the administration should find a realistic payment plan for the average Western student.

According to Ransdell, no other university in Kentucky has initiated this lump sum payment plan. If Western can go about this the right way, it could even start a tuition trend.

This editorial represents the majority opinion of the Herald’s 7-member board of student editors.