Last Monday night at Senate students voted almost unanimously to back an ASCMC proposal to increase student fees by $15. Currently at $245 a year, student fees contribute to the total cost of attending CMC, and are what fund ASCMC’s budget. If Executive Board approves this proposal on Sunday night, then ASCMC will be asking the Board of Trustees to raise the cost of a CMC education. I think doing this would be a mistake.
A proposal like this should only arise out of necessity, and I do not think this threshold has been met under present circumstances. Budgets can run tight on ASCMC, but on the whole we do a good job of performing our responsibilities with what we currently have. With careful planning, ASCMC can reprioritize areas that students feel are lacking without making major sacrifices.
When taken in a broader context, I think there is an even more compelling reason to oppose this fee increase. I will be the first to say that no price tag can ever capture the value of my experience at CMC, but $60,010—our current estimated cost of attendance in 2014—is a ton of money. What concerns me more, however, is how quickly this number is rising. From my freshman to sophomore year, yearly tuition (excluding room & board) increased by $1,845. Sophomore to junior year saw a rise of $1,540. For current seniors, tuition is now $5,986 more expensive than it was their freshman year. Even with inflation, this is no trivial increase.
Supporters of the increased fee initiative fairly characterize the proposal’s benefits. This relatively insignificant added cost would enable ASCMC to expand the programing it offers to students, and the financial aid office would cover the $15 increase for students receiving financial assistance. This proposal would also restore dorm budgets to their full 2011-2012 levels—something I fought hard but unsuccessfully for during the budgeting process last semester.
However, if the trend in increasing tuition continues as it has the past four years, current freshmen will have a tuition bill of $65,996 by the time they are seniors. This kind of money places a significant burden on many families who do not qualify for financial aid, but the consequences for students receiving financial assistance are perhaps even more dire in the long run. When the cost of attending CMC increases, the calculated family contribution remains constant and the financial aid office makes up the difference. At some point this becomes unsustainable. We have already seen the elimination of the no packaged loan policy, and in recent years many colleges similar to CMC have dropped their need blind admission process.
This is unacceptable, and ASCMC should lead by example. At senate, proponents of the increase showed the trend of student fees being raised every 3-4 years. When the Board of Trustees increases tuition, I hope precedent and the norm play no role in their decision. We should apply the same scrutiny to ASCMC’s budget as we want the Board to apply to the whole college. If we allocate money wisely, I think ASCMC will do just fine with our current resources.
If the student fee increase passes, is it possible that we would see a marginal increase in quality of services ASCMC provides? Probably. But is it worth sending the message to the Board of Trustees—even just symbolically—that we’re complacent with this kind of rising tuition? Absolutely not.
Article updated 2/23 at 2:03pm: The original article published was an incorrect version. The article has been updated to its final form.