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W.Va. State needs a sustainable plan

College is neither an entitlement nor free. Students are adults and should be responsible for their expenses and for whatever debt they undertake.

People who run colleges have to pinch pennies, too.

The decision by the board of West Virginia State University to raise tuition by 8 percent for a second consecutive year is a painful but responsible step.

Officials already trimmed the budget by $2 million through a hiring freeze and a reduction in non-personnel expenses.

To cut expenses another 10 percent would require the layoffs of 50 people, or 15 percent of the staff. No one wants that.

The university exists for its students and it is losing them. In 2006, the school had 3,419 students. School officials project enrollment of 2,366 students next fall.

The current business model is unsustainable.

Enrollment dropped, which cut revenue, which led to tuition hikes that make it less attractive to students.

WVSU will still be the third cheapest of the state's 12 public universities after the rate increase, but students are displeased. The vote to increase the price of college at West Virginia State was 8-2, with student representative Kristopher Casdorph clearly opposed.

If the Higher Education Policy Commission approves, tuition for West Virginia residents would rise by about $400 a year to $5,442 a year next fall. Tuition for out-of-state students would go up by $942 to $12,720.

"Where are students going to find this money?" Casdorph asked.

"We took one for the team last year with an 8 percent increase, and this year we're being asked to do it again. It seems like you're saying the only solution is to put it on the backs of the students."

In that light, it must be hard for students to understand why WVSU is dithering over how to encourage support personnel to move to other departments.

Easy. Management 101.

If you can assign students a greater share of the cost burden, you can reassign secretaries to other departments.


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