With the recently-announced six-percent increase to tuition next year, students are now faced with a growing concern of financial uncertainty. This is not to say, however, that rise in the cost of attendance should be protested. Price increases are an inevitable fact within the academic world. The problems with the current increase lie with the clarity of fee disbursement, the fiscal unpredictably the situation creates and the mentality driving it.
Institute president G. P. “Bud” Peterson had called for the new price of tuition as part of his strategic plan to put Tech on par with what he has labeled as “peer institutions;” schools like MIT, Cal Tech and Harvard. Peterson plans to achieve this goal through a number of ways that have not been clearly defined. As a rule, any increase in costs should be defined by particular examples with, if not an item-by-item breakdown, at least descriptions of well-defined solutions that inform the student body of problems to be addressed and benefits that students can expect to see as a result of increases. As of now, the plan is too nebulous and rooted in a collection of vague ideals rather than individualized goals. Transparency as to what will happen with these newfound funds is key to ensure they will benefit the Institute as a whole, and the students in particular.
This sudden increase also creates fiscal uncertainty for a number of students at Tech. Some sort of multi-year financial plan must be established in order for students, both current and future, to effectively plan and budget for college. Students must have access to a general estimate of the cost that they will be facing during their academic career. As of late, students cannot foresee what future costs they will face, in large part, due to the recent succession of price hikes which have seen tuition increase by almost 60% since 2008.
While no one denies the benefits of Tech’s drive to be on par with the institutions mentioned above, it does beg the question as to what kind of university is Tech as of now and what kind of institution is it trying to become: the solid state school, or the beacon of the South? Current financial efforts make it clear that the school can be either, but not both.