If University President Bob Bruininks and the Board of Regents are serious about reaching any top three goals, they need to put the interest of students first. But by increasing tuition of both undergraduate and graduate students, University officials are effectively increasing the debt of each. The high tuition rates and average debt could potentially scare away talented students to schools more accommodating to their financial needs.
The average student debt of a University graduate is $24,995, the worst in the Big Ten among public universities. Illinois has the lowest debt at $15,413. Meanwhile the medical school has one of the worst college debt rates at $141,000, according to the Graduate and Professional Student Association, mostly due to some of the highest tuition rates among medical schools. Despite the rising tuition costs, physicians’ pay has relatively stayed the same. For physicians whose estimated mean income is $216,000, which can take years for a young physician to attain, the debt figure is extreme.
The University medical school created a policy that capped tuition for incoming students so that the rate does not rise during their tenure at the school. The policy helped the medical school drop from the most expensive average tuition at a public school to the second most expensive in the nation. Why not implement a similar policy for other schools at the University?
GAPSA leaders said one of their top goals this year would be to fight tuition increases at last Thursday’s meeting where Bruininks spoke. They will look to attain more graduate student representation to the regents. They currently have one student representative, which is not reflective of their representation among the student population. The Minnesota Student Association gets three students to represent undergrads to the Board of Regents.
MSA and GAPSA should voice student concerns and fight for students in regards to tuition increases and student debt, and make their goals and steps of action this year clear. They should push the administration to implement a similar policy as our medical school’s at other University schools on the undergraduate and graduate level to help lower grossly rising student debt.