Editorial: Rising Cost Of College Limits Options For Some Students

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An editorial in the Wilmington Star News highlights the ever increasing cost of public education and the effect it's having on some families. Since the fall of 2010, tuition has risen nearly 33 percent at UNC-W, far outpacing inflation. With tuition scheduled to increase more over the next couple of years, higher education is at risk of becoming a luxury only some can afford. From the editorial,

After a short reprieve from tuition hikes, students at the University of North Carolina will pay more next year and the year after. The interim chancellor called the proposed increase "modest." But that "modest" increase is significant to students and their families struggling to pay ever-increasing college costs. Since fall 2010,UNCW undergraduate tuition has risen nearly 33 percent.

Many of the increases students are seeing are being fueled by cuts in state funding for higher education. The recession is over, but our acclaimed public universities are still being squeezed. The academic scandal that hit the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is a major black eye, but is not representative of the quality that North Carolina's public universities strive to achieve. However, if cuts are allowed to gnaw away at classes and positions, the reputation of the UNC system eventually will suffer.

North Carolina's flagship university is known as "the university of the people." Its mission is to provide a quality college education to the state's residents, and it has been doing just that since the institution opened in 1795. The system has since expanded to include 17 campuses, including UNCW. These institutions have educated many young men and women who used their acquired knowledge and skills to help better the state.

By making cuts and raising prices, we also are mortgaging our future by making that education less accessible for at least some people. Our state constitution makes it clear that affordability is a priority in higher education:

"The General Assembly shall provide that the benefits of The University of North Carolina and other public institutions of higher education, as far as practicable, be extended to the people of the State free of expense."

No matter how you slice it, $4,026 a year – not counting student fees – is far from free.

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