The University of Southern Indiana held a public hearing on tuition increases on Monday, May 23, 2011, as required by state law, to introduce rates for the next biennial cycle following the approval of Indiana’s budget for the next two years. The rates and fee structure will be approved and finalized at the next USI Board of Trustees meeting in July. The hearing reminds and challenges the public to heed the value of a degree beyond dollars and cents.
Parents and students must realize the scope of services provided to them by their tuition dollars. With the rising cost of books, transportation, housing, and food, some may find it hard to budget and rationalize increased tuition. Institutions of higher education are in the business of preparing the next generation of employees and community leaders. Much institutional funding is based upon completion and graduation rates so it is in the best interest of the institution to promote student success. Free tutoring services, career and internship placements, recreational facilities and academic advising are more than marketing ploys for prospective students; they are tools to enhance student achievement. Once enrolled at the university, students have the opportunity to utilize an abundance of free support services.
Tuition dollars are used to strengthen these services by hiring faculty and staff, upgrading technology, and purchasing resources. One instance of this occurs at the Jasper Campus of Vincennes University where a portion of student fees is dedicated to providing scholarships, leadership training, and free career skills enhancement for its students. For example, students can get free lunch and personal development training at monthly Lunch-and-Learn series through its Career Center. Increasing tuition and fees often result and are dedicated to enhancing service to students in higher education.
Some students have enrolled in less expensive academic programs until the economy improves, but the transfer may not pay off in the long run. Many of these cheaper academic programs lack sufficient support for student to succeed so the low overhead results in lower tuition. If a student intends to transfer to another institution upon the improvement of the economy, he or she must proactively ensure the credits will transfer or risk losing the investment.
Students and parents must weigh their options when faced with larger tuition bills. Instead of focusing on the increase, students should expand their appreciation to include the plethora of free support services offered them at their institution.
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