College Tuition Will No Longer Rise Without Reason, Says Federal Government
Published: Friday, May 27, 2011
Updated: Sunday, May 29, 2011 00:05
The federal government will attempt to restrict the rise of college tuition starting July 1st.
After that date, colleges with large tuition increases will be required to report to the Department of Education (ED) the reason for the increase and the actions that will be taken to minimize costs. ED will publish much of the reports for the public online.
Under the Higher Education Opportunity Act, passed by Congress and signed by President Obama in 2008, ED will rank institutions by the highest tuition and fees, the highest net price, the largest percentage increase in tuition and fees, and the largest percentage increase in net price.
The act also calls for accreditation agencies to follow the federal definition of the credit hour and for schools to monitor enrollment growth and publish all costs prospective students can expect to incur.
More than 70 major colleges and university organizations opposed the act.
"If such control of these schools is not unconstitutional, it ought to be," former U.S. Senator and president of Colorado Christian University, Bill Armstrong, wrote in the Denver Post in September.
The American Council on Education, also opposed, concluded that "additional guidance from the Department of Education will be necessary to determine the full extent of these requirements."
Many private colleges pride themselves on their distinctions from public universities, like smaller class sizes. But if private colleges must reduce costs (or run the risk of forfeiting federal funds), the line between private and public education could blur.
Assistant Provost at The King’s College, Dr. Matt Parker, says the regulations will prevent colleges from committing fraud – which is necessary. But accepting federal money will always entail a cost.
"Unfortunately there’s another lesson here," added Parker. "If you want federal money, then federal strings come with that … that doesn’t make the regulations good, but there are a lot of proverbs about what happens when you are a person dependent on someone else for your money."
ED will publish their research on a government website, College Navigator.
College Navigator is similar to College Board, a non-profit organization that offers statistics on 5,900 colleges and sells standardized tests, like Advanced Placement exams.
By July 2012, ED plans to have published statistics ranging from campus safety information to average SAT scores on all colleges that receive federal funding. They will also create multi-year tuition calculators for each institution to assist students and families in estimating the amount of tuition future years may bring.
State-by-state trends in higher education spending, tuition, fees, and financial aid will be published as well.