I’d like to echo Ben’s assessment of college tuition prices at free- or inexpensive colleges, and I’d like to do so with an anecdote. The other day, I was walking outside the Hunter College building and saw students with oaktag signs protesting $150/semester increases in tuition. The following day, in the hallway, I saw several people standing with signs advocating that adjunct professors be granted healthcare. My feelings are mixed. I strongly sympathize with those who resent the tuition increase, and at the same time, I understand the burdens of lacking employer healthcare options. I do wish, however, that both groups had met one another.
Hunter College tuition now stands at $5,528, less than half the 2008-2009 public college average of $12,804; and it is considerably lower than the $32,184 average for private colleges (statistics drawn from http://nces.ed.gov/fastfacts/display.asp?id=76).
I’d like to argue that those protesting the $150/semester increase perhaps take a broader view. Hunter’s tuition, and indeed, that of all CUNYs, bucks the trend in providing education at a cost that is more or less consistent with inflation. That there should be a tuition increase during a recession is indicative of CUNY attempting to remain consistent with changing times, and not, as the oaktaggers suggest, nickel-and-dime its students. I would be hard pressed to find another institution that offers as much bang for the buck. And I’d like to suggest that instead of picketing CUNY, the two groups talk to one another to better understand – or present a better alternative to – increases that seem more or less warranted.