State-proposed tuition cap bad idea

So tuition and fees continue to go up, and state legislators are fishing for a solution. Western, beware. Chomp on this bait – a proposed tuition cap for Kentucky state colleges and universities – and you’re caught.

A cap will only feed the university’s expenses for a day. But if we want to eat for life, a better solution must be found.

University administrators are arguing against a bill proposed by State Rep. Ron Crimm (R-Middletown) that would reduce tuition at Kentucky state colleges and universities. But Western officials, led by Provost Barbara Burch, say it could shortchange students in the long run by diminishing the quality of education.

Crimm and his supporters have proposed allowing students to pay the same tuition for four years – an idea that comes in response to high tuition increases at Kentucky state universities. The increases have in fact reached double digits.

But while this is one of those things that sounds good on the surface, it doesn’t really make any sense after a closer examination. Western should fight this proposal with good old-fashioned common sense and a few numbers.

A tuition cap would prevent Western from keeping up with increasing costs in educating students, according to Burch. That is because tuition alone pays for 30 percent of educational costs on the Hill. To put all of Kentucky’s schools under the same standards in this matter would be just plain silly, considering that no two schools’ operating costs match up exactly.

Ask any of your economics professors and they’ll most likely tell you the same thing. For one, if you propose a cap in intervals like the current plan suggests, the only students who won’t feel the financial sting are those who enter a state school right after the cap is initiated.

What makes this particularly distressing is that those in favor of trying to use caps to solve students’ problem of paying high tuition are missing the big picture. That focus should always be to never diminish the quality of education.

At this time of bustling enrollment, what kind of message would we be forced to send to those future classes that would be shouldering the financial load? Come to Western and get raked over the coals while getting the same quality of education you could have had four years prior for much cheaper?

It doesn’t make sense now, and if this happens we don’t think it will make cents for future Western students.

This editorial represents the majority opinion of the Herald’s 10-member board of student editors.