Partners' president Dr. James Toscano was recently featured in an article by PEOPLE.com, I’m Going to Die with a Student Loan’: What Should the Government Do About the Trillion-Dollar Debt Crisis?, that highlights the impact of rising college costs and resulting student loan debt. Though there are a number of drivers of rising tuition,Toscano says not enough attention is paid to the institutional spending side of the equation.
“What we haven’t seen enough is corresponding restraint when it comes to spending,” he says. “Whether we’re talking about Uber parking or rock climbing walls, such features contribute to rising prices. The trend of building lazy rivers — that’s not common but it does happen. A lot of the tuition is paid for by federal financial aid, there is not a lot of incentive to hold costs down, and trustees are rubber stamps for spending proposals. Isn’t there anyone to say students can’t afford a penny more? There are not enough of those voices in higher education.”
The article also highlights Partners’ prominent role in advocating for legislative action in Virginia this year to address college affordability and consumer accountability in public higher education. Thanks in part to Partners’ efforts during this year’s session of the Virginia General Assembly, lawmakers allocated over $50 million towards incentive funding for state colleges and universities that elected to freeze in-state tuition this year – every single institution did so. Lawmakers also passed Partners-supported legislation requiring governing boards of public institutions to hold periods of public comment prior to setting tuition and fee rates.
Toscano lobbied the Virginia legislature and won a tuition freeze for the coming school year, which will make it the first time in 17 years that tuition won’t rise. He says that’s $50 million Virginia students won’t owe. Pennsylvania is also freezing public school tuition.
University boards make tuition decisions, and Toscano advocates for the right of students to comment before any vote to hike tuition in the future, so board members know the real consequences of raising prices. Ten states now allow it, but Toscano would like to see it in all 50.
Read the full article HERE.