The staff editorial is the majority opinion of The Murray State News Editorial Board.
“It will be the best four years of your life,” they said.
“It will be worth it,” they said.
What happens when four years turns into five or six? What if college’s “worth” changes and increases to the point of unaffordability?
The Board of Regents will soon be considering a new tuition system that will inevitably push the limit of what students can financially handle, which isn’t much as is.
This new system, which would only apply to students enrolling in or after Fall 2016, would require students taking more than 12 credit hours to pay for each extra credit hour after that.
Let’s do the hypocritical math, here:
Murray State has been advocating the “Fifteen to Finish” plan for a while now – take 15 credit hours per semester and graduate on time in four years.
If students feel financially pressured to take only 12 credit hours (the minimum to be considered a full-time student and to receive financial aid) per semester, and if students are required to earn 120 credit hours to graduate: 120/12 = 10.
Students would have to be enrolled at Murray State for 10 semesters – five years.
We would then be forced to choose: I can pay more per semester to graduate on time/early, I can pay more to stay in school longer or I can enroll somewhere other than Murray State.
Our fear is that graduating high school seniors and potential transfer students will choose the latter.
Murray State has been recognized as “Best Bang for the Buck” by Washington Monthly and “Best Buy” by GetEducated.com, according to MurrayState.edu.
These kinds of awards, along with the quality of education and nurturing learning environment, are some of the main reasons we chose Murray State as our higher education destination.
What will happen when the caliber of education and learning environment aren’t enough to attract students? What if the increasing quantity of money Murray State might expect from students outweighs the quality of a good education?
We shouldn’t be punished for wanting, and sometimes needing, to graduate in four years or less. We shouldn’t feel trapped in a major we ended up hating because switching majors would mean taking more credit hours per semester to catch up, which would mean acquiring more debt. We shouldn’t have to choose between the stress of funneling all our money into college or the stress of having a lower quality of life because a college degree wasn’t affordable.
Yes, this potential new tuition system would give Murray State more funding to improve our educational resources, renovate academic buildings and fix what’s currently failing. Another benefit of the new system would be the flexible scholarship system that would go along with it – i.e. a $4,000 scholarship could be adjusted to $4,500 if tuition increased.
However, the Board of Regents needs to take a hard look at what this tuition system would mean for everyone involved. The benefits of a degree from Murray State need to outweigh the disadvantages on all fronts, especially for the ones paying for it.
If people cannot afford a Murray State education, they will take their money elsewhere. It’s as simple, and serious, as that.