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Raising college tuition would hurt everyone

Six community colleges and universities in the state may get permission to charge students by the credit hour instead of a flat tuition fee.

This would be a pilot program - an experiment - restricted to the six institutions.

Currently, full-time students pay the equivalent of 12 credit hours a semester, but can take up to 21 credit hours. Usually, students need to take 15 hours a semester to graduate in four years.

Going to an hourly rate would increase tuition for full-time students by an average of $1,400 per semester at those institutions, MetroNews reported.

A huge increase in tuition would be dangerous.

West Virginia has a low college-going rate and a low college-graduation rate. In addition, the state has an 11 percent default rate on student loans. The national average is 7.7 percent.

Increasing tuition by hundreds or thousands of

dollars a year would further discourage students from entering college, make it harder for them to graduate in six years, and increase the student loan debt for a population that already has a high default rate.

This is not the direction colleges should go.

The argument is that part-time students, who pay by the credit hour, are in effect subsidizing full-time students, who pay a flat fee.

That hardly seems fair. One way colleges could make up the difference is to reduce the hourly charges for part-time students.

Instead, under the proposed legislation, six community and four-year colleges would rake in millions more from full-time students. That is shortsighted.

Tuition increases draw competition. Already, online schools such as the University of Phoenix are peeling students away from brick-and-mortar institutions.

Per-credit hour fees may make sense, but the change should be revenue neutral.

The state hardly needs a drop in college graduates and an increase in student loan defaults.

Raising tuition would produce both.

 


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