By Carson Cook, Chattanooga, Tenn.—
That standards for what a college campus should look like and what amenities it should offer have dramatically increased over the last few decades.
I remember as I toured UTC’s apartment-style residence halls, the gym complete with lazy river and water slide and the library with floor-to-ceiling windows state of the art technology I heard plenty of parents tell their children “we didn’t have this when I was in school.”
Another thing that has dramatically increased in that time is tuition. But an article published by FiveThirtyEight, “Fancy Dorms Aren’t The Main Reason Tuition Is Skyrocketing,” suggested that decreased state funding is the main cause of this change, at least at public institutions.
Despite the nicer amenities, as well as increasing administrative staff and better pay for tenure track professors, at most these trends account for only a quarter of the increase in tuition since 2000, according to the article
Doug Webber, the author and a professor at Temple University, calculated the numbers for Pennsylvania’s public research institutions. If Pennsylvania restored public funding to the amount it was in 2000 and passed the savings on to students, tuition would be $4,000 less each year.
On the other hand, reducing student services would save only $380 a year, reverting faculty salaries would save $150 and reducing administrative staff would save just $150.
In Tennessee, the average increase in tuition from 2000 to 2014 was $3,700, whereas state funding decreased $3,100 in the the same time, meaning decreased state funding accounted for about 85 percent of the increase.
Because the article had a national focus, it doesn’t account for the Hope Scholarship, Tennessee Promise or other programs that may counterbalance the trend in our state. This article demonstrates the importance of keeping up with state politics, since it has a significant financial impact on all of us.