Letter to the Editor: College finance – a response

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Mr. Villwock’s editorial on Friday, Nov. 6, displayed a frightening lack of knowledge about K-State, let alone higher education finances as a whole. There isn’t space enough to correct all his false assumptions. As the tuition at K-State increased, efforts to secure student scholarships as well as return some of the tuition increases to need-based student financial support also increased.

Institutionally supported need-based scholarships now exceed those available from the federal government and are nearly ten times that available from state-supported scholarships. Private donations cover the costs of nearly every building project undertaken in the last decade or more. Nearly every college dean spends an inordinate amount of time raising private funds to provide student scholarships and provide the competitive faculty salaries needed to ensure students a high quality education. If Mr. Villwock had taken the time to examine the publicly available statistics about K-State, his opinions would have at least been grounded in evidence.

If students want to advocate a return to greater state investment in higher education, they need to demonstrate that they are prepared to make a far more serious investment in themselves.

The average debt for a college education currently being reported is roughly the cost of a new car. The U.S. Census Bureau reports that a college degree nearly doubles an individual’s annual earnings. Doubling your annual earnings over a lifetime seems a better investment in yourself than a car. Coming to class prepared, taking responsibility for strengthening skills you let slide in high school, seeking challenges, acknowledging your own responsibilities in preparing yourself to be productive – these would all go a long way toward convincing others that an investment in you would be worthwhile.

Doing the research needed to write an informed editorial, checking the credibility and relevance of your sources, being your own best critic (local governments do not pay “the majority of public college expenses!”) – these are the investments you need to make in yourself before you ask others to invest in you. As it is, many tax-payers see students borrowing money to support a lifestyle for which they have not yet earned the necessary credentials. They see students treating a college degree as a consumable, not an investment. It seems appropriate that the individual consumer should bear those costs.

Jacqueline D. Spears

Professor

College of Education

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