90.9 WBUR - Boston's NPR news station
Top Stories:
Here and Now with Robin Young
Public radio's live
midday news program
With sponsorship from
Mathworks - Accelerating the pace of engineering and science
Accelerating the pace
of engineering and science
Thursday, March 8, 2012

State Colleges Cut Popular Programs Amid Tuition Hikes

Times are so tough at public colleges and universities that many are being forced to cut programs in areas that the economy needs the most to grow. Health care, computer science and engineering have all been slashed, even though they are among the most popular programs with students.

The reason: money.

The New York Times reports that the recession has led states to cut back on funding to public colleges by 7.6 percent in the past year. And in hard-hit areas like Arizona, state funding to public colleges has been cut by 31 percent since 2007. At the same time, tuition costs have been skyrocketing.

The Times found that tuition at public colleges and universities jumped nearly 600 percent in the past 25 years. During the same period, consumer goods went up by 200 percent.

So students are paying more and getting less.

Many students, who are turned away from state schools and community colleges, end up at for-profit colleges like Kaplan or Phoenix.

Catherine Rampell, economics reporter for the New York Times, says that means that the public is still subsidizing higher education, since those for-profit schools target students who rely on federal grants and loans.

For-profit schools tend to graduate fewer students than state universities, leading experts to question if public education funds are being put to the best use.


  • Catherine Rampell, New York Times economics reporter

Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
  • James Hayes-Bohanan

    Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! This is the best reporting I have heard on college costs. In fact, it is the ONLY reporting I have heard that describes the pressures on public higher education. Catherine Rampell has it exactly right. State legislatures and governors have steadily shifted the cost of higher education to those who are pursuing it. 

    The result is that people who would serve their society best by studying full-time and perhaps working 10-20 hours per week, instead enroll full-time but study part-time because they must work 30-40 hours per week or more. Additionally, they take on debt that they may be paying for their entire working lives.

    This report also rightly points out that for-profit “universities” benefit from the cuts to the public sector, gathering public money for lower-quality programs.

    Sadly, this is exactly the world that the privatizers and privateers of the Reagan era had in mind.

  • Birdsrus4

    I want to know about all the FREE TUTION FOR…family members of all the employees at the universitys and colleges…….even master degrees free for all their family members

    • Julie Corsaro

      Free tuition is sometimes a benefit for children of private university faculty but usually not public university faculty. The most prestigious universities, like the Harvard and Dukes of the world, will cover equivalent tuition at other universities. (Of course, they have no say in whether or not someone gets accepted). Other private universities have arrangements with select peer universities to exchange tuition costs (i.e. you cover ours and we will cover yours). The other thing to keep in mind is that about 70% of faculty are job insecure; they are either adjuncts who tend to get paid around #3,000 per course with no benefits at all or non-tenured faculty who usually do have benefits like health insurance but probably don’t have benefits like tuition reimbursement. In the latter positions, pay often hovers around $40,000 a year with little possibility of an increase and very heavy teaching loads.

Robin and Jeremy

Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson host Here & Now, a live two-hour production of NPR and WBUR Boston.

September 16 7 Comments

Kathy Gunst Explores Community Supported Agriculture

Kathy Gunst joins Cook's Illustrated executive food editor Keith Dresser at his CSA pickup and offers recipes for the seasonal CSA fare.

September 16 11 Comments

Remembering Jesse Winchester

Jimmy Buffett remembers his friend the late songwriter Jesse Winchester, whose posthumous album is being released today.

September 15 26 Comments

A Call To Reject Corporal Punishment As Part Of Black Culture

An incident of child abuse by an NFL player has raised questions about the use of corporal punishment as a form of discipline in the African-American community.

September 15 26 Comments

Would You Pay To Get Your Kid Into A Top College?

A San Francisco company charges parents for a consulting package based on the odds their student will get into a certain university, with prices up to a million dollars.