Disclaimer: Content on the YP4 blog does not necessarily reflect the views of Young People For or People For the American Way Foundation. The views, ideas, statements or claims posted on this site by members of the public cannot in any way be attributed to either Young People For or People For the American Way Foundation.
[asset|aid=782|format=image|formatter=asset|title=For Student Power, not Student Debt!|width=250|height=170|align=right|resizable=true]The New York Times had a pair of articles last Sunday chronicling what seems to be an emerging "race to the bottom" among universities, to see who can most cut tuition, either across the board or for families under a certain income level. They also profile several schools that effectively have zero tuition.
I've also included the full text of these articles on For Student Power (in case NYT changes the link or makes your register). Both of these articles are very important for campus radicals to read and chew on; it's a fantastic glimpse into the kind of "peer pressure" that goes on among colleges and universities. Up until recently, the trend was "if you raise your tuition, I'll raise mine," with the added revenue going either to prestige-building exercises (new buildings, facilities, etc.) or financial aid. And of course, there's this:
Donald Heller, director of the Center for the Study of Higher Education at Pennsylvania State, offers one reason: “There’s something we refer to in college pricing as the Chivas Regal effect. If an institution drops its price, it’s seen as a decrease in quality.”
It's sad, but it's something that's true, to a certain extent. And the NYT articles certainly show that in some cases, reducing tuition can have the opposite impact, and actually attract higher-income students, showing that as we look at our own universities, it isn't just the "sticker price" we should be worried about.
Having a good grasp of what your university's peers are doing in terms of tuition can be an effective weapon when fighting for lower tuition and more financial aid, with the goal being tuition abolition. It can also be a key part of any narrative you submit to the press. "All we're demanding X University do is what Y College and Z University have done. They all have similar endowments, so why is X being so greedy?"