Dollars don’t make sense

By Brianna Wellen

College is expensive, that’s no secret. Yet even with rising tuition, the number of students enrolling in college has been steadily increasing since 2000, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. However, Columbia’s numbers are in, and once again the college’s enrollment has gone down while tuition has gone up. Though the state of the economy is an easy explanation for the rise in tuition, some things just don’t add up.

If fewer students are attending the college, therefore using less time and resources, why is 5.2 percent more money necessary to run the institution? President Warrick L. Carter cited the raise as being in line with the national average for private colleges in the United States. However, as reported in this issue of The Chronicle, the national average for 2012– 2013 tuition has not yet been released. Right now, there is no way of officially knowing where the college stands, especially because enrollment increases or decreases may not be taken into account.

If tuition is raised, a better explanation needs to be given as to why the extra money is needed. It’s the students’ right to know where their money is going, especially with Columbia’s faculty and staff in the middle of a salary freeze and the president of our college—who doesn’t have his facts straight about average tuition increases—makes only $4,000 less than President Barack Obama.

With enrollment down 3.86 percent this year, the needs of the students whom the school should want to retain should come first. This includes transparency when it comes to monetary issues like tuition. While other institutions across the nation manage to retain students at a steady rate and still raise their tuition to cover rising costs, perhaps Columbia’s rising tuition has the opposite effect. If so, Columbia is in a perfect position to remedy this. Through the prioritization process, the structure of the school is being put under a microscope. Hopefully, through adopting some of the recommended changes to bolster worthy programs, enrollment will increase, and the burden of the college’s finances can be slightly lifted.

In order to increase enrollment, Columbia needs to start with providing current students with the best education and experience possible. Ideally, their success and positive experience will attract future students. Part of making that possible is for the college to be as open and transparent with students as it can, so the next time tuition is raised, students will be more than willing to pay the extra dollars for their unique, quality education.