Shortfalls of University tuition discussion

University tuition and funding statements need proper context.

by Sara Hurley

ItâÄôs becoming troubling for me to read articles about the University of MinnesotaâÄôs tuition and funding situation, especially without putting the statements made into proper context. Both Vice President Richard Pfutzenreuter, chief financial officer of the University, and Sen. Sandy Pappas, DFL-St. Paul, make statements I donâÄôt think the majority of Minnesotans would consider acceptable when asked to reflect on what the UniversityâÄôs obligations to the state are. For instance, Pfutzenreuter says the âÄúUniversity will have to maximize tuition while ensuring education remains affordable for students.âÄù IâÄôm not sure what he thinks the peak of âÄúaffordableâÄù is, but since tuition at the University has more than doubled since I graduated in 1999 and household incomes have not, I would argue that the University is not affordable right now. Pappas says the University may need to âÄúfocus on high-ability students and on research and let MnSCU be the open-access university,âÄù which is particularly distressing. Setting aside the complete abandonment of the UniversityâÄôs land grant mission inherent in that statement, how does increasing tuition so that it is even more unaffordable translate to being able to focus on âÄúhigh-abilityâÄù students? These students âÄî and perhaps their families âÄî still have to come up with tuition money and still have to pay off the debts they accumulate to finance their education. Contextually, my concern as a Minnesotan and as an alumna is that the University is spending too much time strategizing on how to create an âÄúeliteâÄù reputation and is doing so to the detriment of its current and future undergraduate students. Sara Hurley University graduate student and staff