Our view: Fee is ill-conceived and inadequate — but it’s only the first year

DKS Editors

School officials admitted they don’t have the money they expected from students taking more than a typical load of courses. This news is frustrating because we were told that the extra money students would be shelling out every semester would help make the campus look pretty long after they have graduated.

The budget shortfall is particularly agitating for those who are choosing to pay the fee — $447 for every credit hour more than 16 — cutting classes they wanted to take and facing the risk of possibly graduating later. After all, taking 18 credit hours at Kent State is more expensive than any other public school in Ohio besides Miami University, which the U.S. Department of Education crowned the most expensive four-year public college in the country this year.

We understand that, in a tight fiscal environment, all options have to be on the table. But students are in that same environment, and they’re receiving two different messages.

On one hand, the top priority of college is to provide students an open door of opportunity — to encourage them to be what they want to be, when they want to be it. The “ambition penalty,” as aptly named by student protesters who took to Risman Plaza last year, effectively taxes the student to fill their academic plate.

Thus, the recent push for students to graduate in four years or less is now a little bit harder.

Another paradox lies within the reason for the shortfall. Our top budget official guessed students avoided taking more hours to avoid the fee, thus creating the nearly $1 million gap in expected revenue.

But the school can’t charge the student more and expect the student to take the class. It doesn’t work that way. We fear that the university will have to scrounge from other places to fill that gap. Tuition and “unexpected” enrollment increases are unsustainable ways to fill the gap.

Despite the flaws behind the fee, we caution against declaring it a certain failure. The administration has 29 more years to pay back hundreds of millions of dollars of campus improvements. We understand that we may have to pay a little extra for the next generation, but let’s make sure we’re all paying our share.

The above editorial is the consensus opinion of the Daily Kent Stater editorial board, whose names are listed above.