Efforts to derail tuition cuts concerns higher education chair
A cornerstone of the Senate’s budget proposals has been working family tax-relief in the form of cutting college tuition at state-run colleges and universities by an average of 25 percent. The Senate introduced and passed Senate Bill 5954, known as the College Affordability Program (CAP) which makes a historic cut to college tuition. Students and families around the state have lauded the first tuition reduction in decades that will help 200,000 students by making college more affordable.
Recently, the state Treasurer sent a letter to legislators outlining his opposition to lowering tuition, citing possible effects on the state’s Guaranteed Education Tuition Program (GET). However, the non-partisan Office of the State Actuary has indicated the Senate’s proposed tuition reduction would be a boon to the program.
“It seems that the Treasurer isn’t looking at the facts,” said Bailey, co-sponsor of the College Affordability Program and chair of the Senate Higher Education Committee. “We want to be sure we are getting this right and we asked non-partisan experts to weigh in. The fact is that GET will be in a better position if we reduce tuition. This bill ensures that current GET holders are held harmless – that is spelled out in the bill. The Treasurer’s letter and concerns are unfounded.”
The chart demonstrates the Actuary’s analysis of the positive effect the Senate Majority Coalition’s tuition freeze had on the solvency of GET and indicates the significant increase to the funded status overall if the College Affordability Program is adopted.
“Students and families have suffered under skyrocketing tuition for decades but no one sent a letter voicing concerns when that was happening or when the GET program was underfunded,” said Bailey. “The efforts to derail this tuition cut are baffling when we are working hard to help students in our state. Double-digit tuition increases are not sustainable and working families and students have suffered because of that.”
CAP ties future increases in tuition to growth in the state’s average wage which has increased by three to four percent on average over the past two decades. In the last ten years, college tuition however, has more than doubled. Bailey continued, “Our proposal accounts for growth in a manageable way that is tied to what the average person can afford. Opposition to lowering tuition because of unfounded partisan concerns over the GET program is a case of the tail wagging the dog.”