Hey college kid, got $2 to spare?

With the cost of a college education rapidly rising across the country, Gov. Ted Strickland did Ohio students a great service by proposing a statewide tuition freeze. Money lost through the freeze, for universities that chose to accept it, would be compensated with funds from the government. Strickland wants to take the pressure of education off the backs of students and their families and put it back on the government and its institutions.

Kudos to Kent State for accepting Strickland’s challenge and holding this year’s tuition at last year’s levels. This administration recognizes that, for many students, funding a college education can be a difficult task. Lots of students work just to cover the expenses of living and rely on scholarships and other kinds of financial aid to help them pay for tuition, books and fees.

It’s great that Kent State is launching a new scholarship campaign to put some extra money in at least a few students’ pockets. Students who are strapped for cash can use all the help they can get. So where is the university getting these new funds, you ask?

Your pockets.

The university’s new “Campaign for Change” is being hocked as a way to satisfy charitable desires while being selfish. It encourages students to invest in their “favorite” cause: themselves. According to the campaign, the university will take students’ gifts during fall semester and then award eight random scholarships at the beginning of the spring semester. Students who give money to the campaign are then entered into a drawing for the funds.

If every undergraduate on the Kent campus gave $2 to the campaign – the equivalent of skipping their morning coffee, according to the campaign – the university would raise enough money to make those eight scholarships each worth $4,500. If you’re willing to skip lunch, you could donate $5. And the campaign generously reminds you that you can take the $25 you got back from the bookstore for your $150 text and give it right back to Kent State. Nevermind that they’re poking fun at a huge expense students shell out every semester and the fact that no measures are being made to alleviate that stress. Just take that money and hand it back.

So let’s get this straight. Rather than encouraging financial responsibility and teaching students who do have some spare change to save or invest their money, earning interest and learning solid money-managing skills for the future, Kent State wants them to enter it in a lottery of sorts, tossing their money in for a slight chance at a windfall.

And students who can’t afford to spare that $2 the university feels is so expendable? They’re out of luck. This scholarship only applies to those who can pay to play.

Not only does this idea not make sense, the campaign is insulting. It implies that students only care about themselves, when volunteer rates among college students have risen in recent years. It encourages gambling. It ignores the students who really can’t afford to spare $5 or $10 in a given week, who are living from paycheck to paycheck and who are already forced to rack up debt in loans and on credit cards – the ones who could really benefit from a university scholarship.

We’ll see you in line for coffee.

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