Skyrocketing tuition cannot be the norm

Edwin Wang, Staff Writer

Hanson Dai | Art Director

Modern American higher education is universally associated with astronomical costs, empowered by ambiguous institutional tuition increases. As one of the U.S.’ most expensive colleges, Tulane must contain its rampant tuition inflation to prevent student debt crises from irreparably damaging Tulanians’ futures.

Tulane’s tuition is currently on par with infamously expensive Ivy League schools, with tuition, fees, room and board projected to total just under an astounding $78,000 for Tulane’s 2021 freshman class

Tulane’s tuition has risen more than 40 percent in the last decade alone, even though academic support, campus health and student activity fees remain relatively flat and fundraising initiatives like “Only the Audacious,” externally financed pricey infrastructure projects like the Goldring Woldenberg Business Complex and the Commons.

The market tuition rate for private U.S. colleges currently sits in the $50,000 range, irrespective of a school’s reputation or resources. While Tulane can tout its attendance cost as a “great value” to applicants, Tulane is emulating rivals by exploiting this harmful market trend to pad institutional finances. 

Alarmingly, tuition at American universities has more than doubled over the past thirty years, creating an unsustainable reality that forces youth to scrutinize college’s pricetag over its immeasurable educational opportunities.

Every generation critiques America’s skyrocketing college tuition, but few reforms have been undertaken by parties with the means to act. While schools like Tulane are justified in enacting fees that finance operations and development, Tulane must prioritize student interests by promoting transparency and flexibility regarding its tuition.  

A major ambiguity with Tulane’s tuition lies in the university’s annual 2 to 3 percent tuition increase policy. If inevitable economic conditions like inflation justify this burdening financial penalty, the university should publicly admit it.

A visit to Tulane’s “Cost of Attendance” page reveals the university rationalizes this practice by simply stashing asterisks on its website. Tulane’s unwillingness to illuminate this policy not only enriches the university, but fails to convince students as to why we must bear the brunt of the most arbitrary college costs.

A screenshot from Tulane’s “Cost of Attendance” website.

Most universities in America charge a ludicrous price for tuition, but even notoriously expensive schools like New York University or the University of Southern California do not aggravate their students with automatic tuition hikes. 

Given future economic uncertainties over maturing realities like job automation or crippling income inequality, further enabling college education opportunities is essential to discovering and nurturing the leaders who will solve these universal problems. 

It is morally reprehensible for colleges like Tulane to saddle students with eternal debts simply for personal pursuits of knowledge, individual growth experiences and learning opportunities that not only mold a person, but will determine future societal progression.

While Tulane is obligated to fulfill its institutional mission from a business-centered approach, it is not unreasonable for the university to be more transparent with cost implementations and escalations that ultimately are students’ liabilities.

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