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Our View – As tuition rises, so does popularity

Wouldn’t you love it if Cal State Long Beach suddenly decided to lower their admission costs, just for the heck of it? Think of all the money you’d save: You could afford that new car, take that trip to Greece, buy that flat screen TV. Students and parents alike would rejoice and the world would be a better place.

If you heard that the university of your choice was lowering its cost of tuition, it would be just another excuse to beg your parents for the money to attend, right? Not necessarily. According to a Dec. 12 article in the New York Times, many East Coast universities are losing applications due to low admission fees.

According to the article, several administrators at universities across the country have come to a remarkable revelation: Families now associate price with quality, assuming that if the college costs more, it must be better.

Take, for example, Ursinus College, a small liberal arts institution in Pennsylvania. John Strassburger, the president of Ursinus, recalls the day when the chairman of the board of trustees told him the college was losing applicants because the cost of admission was too low.

So the board voted to raise tuition and fees by 17.6 percent, which totalled to $23,460. Incredibly, Ursinus received nearly 200 more applications than the year before. But that’s not all Ursinus did. It also raised student aid by almost 20 percent, which is just under $12.9 million. That means that the majority of its students pay for less than half the price of regular admission.

But don’t think Ursinus is alone. With college competition higher than ever, many major, high-ranking universities, such as the University of Notre Dame and Rice University have drastically increased the cost of tuition to match their rivals.

According to the College Board, the average tuition at private, non-profit four-year colleges rose an incredible 81 percent from 1993 to 2004, more than double the inflation rate, and financial aid rose an astonishing 135 percent. So the average cost of tuition, fees, room and board at those colleges is now $30,367.

Obviously, this new development has several administrators questioning how long this fad will last. Ronald G. Ehrenberg, the director of Cornell Higher Education Research Institute, said “Eventually, if we’re going to keep raising tuition at rates much more than the increase in family incomes, then something has to be done to make the places more accessible to the middle class.”

But how will that happen? This just goes to show how the strange minds of the American people function. It is a common thought that universities that cost more must be better learning institutions. But did you ever stop and think that maybe the university is lowering the tuition for you?

We live in such a cynical society that any form of common decency and compassion seems absurd. But why would they lower the prices? For the sake of the American people? Why, yes. Now that our eyes have wandered to other higher institutions of learning, universities are reeling us back in, with promises of high tuition and financial aid galore.

So when your younger sibling or child begins their own terrifying journey towards college, remember: Just because the place doesn’t cost a fortune doesn’t mean it’s not worthwhile.

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