Our View: Don’t make raising tuition the easy way out

DKS Editors

Summary: While the university will have to make difficult decisions in the near future concerning the budget, we ask administrators to not make raising tuition the easy way out.

While university officials probably won’t say one way or another on the issue, it’s a pretty safe bet that tuition will rise for next year.

The state of Ohio faces an $8 billion deficit, and Gov. John Kasich has declared nothing sacred as his administration attempts to balance the budget for the next fiscal year. That’s bad news for state universities.

Currently, Ohio has a 3.5 percent cap on tuition increases per year. That cap began two summers ago after a two-year tuition freeze. But that was during former Gov. Ted Strickland’s reign.

Earlier this week, Lefton told a Stater reporter that while he’s in Columbus today, he plans to ask legislators from the Kent State area to remove the tuition cap. That’s bad news for those of us who aren’t graduating in May.

If the state cuts back on funding for the university, then Kent State officials will need to make tough choices about how to make up for the loss. Should tuition be raised? Should programs be cut? Should faculty be let go?

It’s not an easy time for anyone in higher education administration right now.

But we hope President Lefton and Kent State’s administrators will seriously consider other alternatives to balancing the university’s budget before raising tuition dramatically. The administration at Kent State should always have the students’ best interest in mind, even when facing a budget crunch.

In Tuesday’s article titled “Lefton to ask legislators to remove tuition caps,” the president called rising tuition from states’ decisions to cut university funding a national trend. While that’s most likely true (California’s tuition jumped 32 percent last fall after the state cut back on higher education funding), that shouldn’t be the university’s excuse to follow suit.

Obviously, handling the budget for a university of this size is a complex endeavor. And if the state slashes the money it doles out to schools, then that job only becomes harder. But we believe increasing tuition should be seen more as a last resort than a first option.

The above editorial is the consensus opinion of the Daily Kent Stater editorial board.