Published on 2012/03/09

Raise Tuition For Rich, Increase Access For All

Since 2000, the median wage has been consistently dropping when inflation is taken into account, Pell Grants have been slashed and refined so that they now cover only about a third of tuition and fees and student debt, across the board, is skyrocketing. All this, while 41 states have cut funding for public higher education as part of a pattern that stretches back to the first round of deep cuts in 2009, forcing an average tuition increase of 8.3 percent.

It’s against this backdrop that The Kansas City Star’s Robert Reich wrote on Tuesday that higher income students must pay higher tuition rates to help subsidize public higher education for middle- and low-income students.

Historically, Reich writes, higher education has been the door to the middle class, and that norm hasn’t changed. Four-year college degrees mark the divide between the top one-third of Americans and the bottom two-thirds in the wake of the recession. Further, while less than five percent of college graduates are unemployed, over nine percent of those without a college degree find themselves in dole lines.

Reich argues that the solution must be two-fold. On top of his idea to increase the relative tuition rates of high-income students, he argues that public universities must be made more efficient in spite of the labor-intensive nature of the institutions.

The importance of public higher education can’t be overstated, Reich says, and public higher education must be seen as more than a private investment, but a public good.

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