Our View: A call for tuition transparency

It’s one line in the Student Account Summary of every Kent State student’s bill for attending college – the cost of tuition.

This semester, the cost of being here for a full-time undergraduate student who is a resident of Ohio equals $4,363. And yet that astronomical number, a number that drives students to juggle schoolwork and outside jobs, only receives one pathetic line in our bills.

This is our call for more transparency from the university.

The bills should outline how the university spends every dollar, quarter, dime, nickel and penny of our tuition. Last week, the Stater ran a story about college tuition with a graphic breaking down a typical tuition bill. In case you missed it, here’s the breakdown of how your $4,363 is spent:

&bull $19.20 for student organizations

&bull $9.14 for student publications

&bull $5.32 for student leader development

&bull $261.94 for athletics

&bull $108.07 for recreation services

&bull $99.35 for the Student Center

&bull $66.10 for the health center

&bull $86.04 for facilities

&bull $1.65 for bands

&bull $54.04 for transportation services

&bull $1.65 for theater

&bull $10.70 for a registration services fee

&bull $3.10 for your FlashCard

&bull $3,636.70 for instructional fees

That information comes courtesy of the University Budget Office. But let’s be honest: Will the average student take the time to track down this information from that office? The simple answer is no.

And they shouldn’t have to do so. After all, we’re paying that steep tuition rate. How hard could it be to add this breakdown to our Bursar account invoices? This information should be readily available to the consumer, whether the bill payer is the student, parent, guardian or other generous benefactor. It’s all about being a smart consumer and knowing what we’re paying for.

For instance, we’re willing to bet the student sections at sporting events would see a significant attendance increase with the disclosure of this information. Only attending two football games all year is a waste of money, as each one is theoretically costing students $130.97 – i.e., how much students pay for athletics divided by two.

As beneficial as this breakdown is, it’s still not complete. The instructional fees – $3,636.70 – should be more specific. We deserve to know how much tuition money is funneled to professors, administrators, and yes, even President Lester Lefton’s pocket.

Kent State has done a fairly good job at keeping the extra fees beyond tuition to a minimum. (Although, some colleges are better at this than others.) Those fees are mostly apparent on student invoices.

That doesn’t excuse a lack of transparency for tuition money, though. We deserve to know where our money is going and be able to track any changes from semester to semester. Students should not have to embark on a treasure hunt to find a numerical breakdown.

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