The money has to come from somewhere

When Gov. Ted Strickland announced his plan for a college tuition freeze last month, the reaction was split: Sure, we appreciate keeping money in our pockets just as much as the next student, but we wondered where the extra funding would come from.

We’re starting to find out.

Yesterday, Kent State’s Board of Trustees approved increases in the costs for room, board and parking passes for next fall. The trustees said these increases were necessary to keep up with the rising costs of maintenance and construction projects. In the case of room and board fees, the increase will also help accommodate for expenses resulting from the recent minimum wage hike.

The fee will increase an average of 4.7 percent for a standard plan, which includes a double room and a basic meal plan. Students who move out of the residence halls before their contract is up will also face a larger fee – from 10 percent of their room fees this year to 12.5 percent next year.

Parking – already a major issue on campus – will also cost more, even if it’s just by a little. It’s still asking for more money from students who are often strapped for cash.

And these figures put Kent State at the bottom of the increase ladder in Ohio. Most colleges that have announced increases for next year have gone much higher.

It’s difficult to make ends meet; we know that. As journalists, we are well aware of the tight times our economy is in today. Newspaper readership is declining and, with it, our source of funding. Trust us: We know all about making cuts and finding places for profit.

But it’s sad that this money has to come from the pockets of students. Strickland wants universities to freeze tuition for next year. In exchange, he plans to increase funding for higher education.

Strickland’s plan, if it goes off as he hopes, would still leave Kent State with $4 million less than the average tuition increase would, senior vice president for administration David Creamer told the Stater. In recent years, Kent State has raised its tuition about 6 percent every year.

While the tuition freeze sounds like a good idea at first, the money still has to come from somewhere. And that somewhere is likely to be just another pocket in the same student’s wallet.

Strickland has said that in order for universities to receive the promised funds, in addition to agreeing to freeze tuition, they have to find ways to perform more efficiently. Efficiency in the government often equals dollar signs.

While the administration hasn’t said yesterday’s approved increases are connected to the proposed tuition freeze, the only way to make those dollars is to either cut funds or raise money. We haven’t seen any cuts, so it makes sense that the university will have to find places to squeeze a few extra dollars out here and there.

If Strickland wants to change the way higher education is run, he should first create a well-developed plan of action. Without one, universities are left worrying about how to make ends meet and students are still left footing the bill. The gesture is appreciated, but plans are what will carry it through.

Until then, we hope you know where to find affordable off-campus housing, off-brand groceries and used bikes.

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