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Tuition freeze gripes the nation

February 04, 2007

In the last week, Governors from Wisconsin and Maryland have outlined plans to freeze tuition in their states.  And in Minnesota, Republican legislators introduced a bill to that would force institutions to lock-in tuition rates over the four-year period that the student attends the institution. 

Much of this legislation is a result of the outcry that elected officials heard during the last election. Increased political pressure from parents and students is the reason that many state legislatures and Governors will outline plans to freeze tuition this year.

The problem is that the proposed cure will be much worse than the disease.  State legislatures will likely force institutions to keep tuition low but will not address the real reason why tuition has gone up over the last five years – health care costs, energy costs, and declining state support of higher education.

This will put institutions in a bad position politically.  They will have to oppose these measures because they will negatively impact the quality of the higher education.  In the end, tuition freezes will ultimately mean cuts to services, programs and faculty salaries.

Higher education institutions must reach out to students and parents to alert them about what these proposals will actually mean for the quality of their education.  This type of outreach is a key strategy that government affairs offices should be pursing.  Some of the most effective government relation strategies happen outside your state capitol. Unfortunately, many institutions miss this opportunity and fail to engage students and parents about these types of issues. 

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