by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Colleges are hiking the price of tuition and living fees despite a decrease in classroom learning and student services.
The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC), New York University, the University of Southern California (USC), and Indiana University are among several universities raising tuition and other fees in the upcoming academic year. These institutions will raise the cost of tuition and living expenses by an average of $1,511 while minimizing services, amenities, and in-person classroom learning.
Tuition hikes come as universities struggle to adapt to the challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic, which has forced schools to send students home from campus and adopt alternative teaching methods. Colleges fear tuition revenue will decrease as they transition to online programming, but students are more concerned that they are paying exorbitant rates with little return.
“As students, we still do not know what classes will be in-person or online,” said UIUC College Republicans president Matthew Krauter. “We do not know what activities the university will offer or what events our student organizations may hold. The decision to raise the cost of tuition and campus life while simultaneously scaling back activities and in-person education is tone-deaf.”
Colleges justify the tuition and fee increase by citing the fixed operation costs and decisions made before the pandemic. UIUC will raise in-state student tuition by 4.5 percent to a minimum of $32,814 and out-of-state tuition will rise by 3.5 percent to $50,604 in the 2020-2021 academic year.
University of Illinois spokesman Jan Dennis told the Washington Free Beacon that the public university—which received $1.9 billion in taxpayer funds in 2019— would not roll back costs, though it is attempting to expand scholarship programs.
“The tuition increase was approved in January, before the pandemic,” Dennis said.