For some, fee increases offer a way to skirt bans on tuition hikes
- A Missouri state audit reveals public colleges and universities are complying with a law to keep tuition increase percentages below the state's general economic performance rate, but suggests schools have responded with fee increases exceeding 130% over the last six years.
- The fees, typically levied for individual courses or for costs associated with a specific academic program or college, have grown as per-student state appropriations have decreased by $1,500 over the audited period.
- Student activities, technology and recreation costs often create the loopholes to boost revenue in the face of legislative tuition freezes and budget cuts.
The politics of higher education often wreak havoc on the economics of the industry, so it is hard to blame institutions for finding creative ways to sustain revenue while complying with laws against tuition increases. Growing trends in out-of-state student enrollment and growing economic disparities in rural and metropolitan areas are limiting revenue options for many public colleges throughout the country.
Beyond the usual solutions of increasing fundraising, developing alternative revenue sources and adding degree value, the political climate around many schools may require a more stringent approach to cost cutting; namely, reconsidering degrees which present few direct pathways to employment or eliminating student services which do not present sponsorship or co-branding opportunities.
- St. Louis Post-Dispatch Higher education audit highlights rising course fees while tuition stays flat