Our view: Tuition freeze thawed. Make the best of it.

“If we are allowed to increase tuition, we obviously have to,” President Lester Lefton told the Daily Kent Stater in November.

Well, Kent State and the rest of Ohio’s public universities are allowed now.

For the last two years, the state’s schools have been restricted by a mandatory tuition freeze not to raise the cost of classes. Gov. Ted Strickland even declared in his State of the State address this year that it would continue for a third year.

But balancing their budget – something states are required by law to do – proved trickier than expected, and now schools are allowed to bump tuition 3.5 percent. That’s $148 more for a full-time student from Ohio or $278 for an out-of-state student.

With the going rate for a semester of school at Kent State at $4,215, a couple hundred more doesn’t really seem like that much. Just throw it on top of the stack of loans. Work three extra shifts at Subway. “Forget” to buy a textbook for Modeling Algebra. We already hard-working students will find a way to cover the cost.

No, it’s less a personal financial tragedy than an unsettling sign of the times.

Loans are harder to get, administrators are buying out faculty jobs, unemployment won’t go down, and the federal budget deficit is $1 trillion. And still, Kent State can’t give someone a few bucks to fix those damned slippery fake bricks on the University Esplanade.

It’s not the Great Depression, but it still sucks.

And now Ohio’s students, who already spend far more than the national average on tuition, will have to pay even more. It’s not Lefton’s fault. We can’t blame Gregg Floyd, Kent State’s finance guy, and even the governor is just doing what he has to do to keep the lights on.

So, we can wallow in our misery, or we can try to save some money and still have fun this next school year.

The Summer Kent Stater editorial board has compiled a list of practical ways to save cash:

• See how long you can go without driving your car – vehicles just suck up money. Ride PARTA when you can, or walk if it’s close.

• Buy a dollar-a-can beer at the Venice instead of a motor-oil-like porter at Ray’s. They both get you drunk.

• Find your textbooks at Amazon.com or share with a friend. Some professors complain about wrong editions and not having your own book, but it’s your money.

• When going on a date, rent a movie instead of going to the theater. Face it, bud, you’d rather be alone on your couch with her anyway.

• Go to Taco Bell instead of Chipotle.

We know this list is incomplete. If you have better ideas, send them to Forum Editor Ben Wolford at [email protected], and we’ll start a running list on KentNewsNet.com.

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