Tuition plan limits access

Farfetched, pipe dream tuition plans are not the answer to the burning questions of higher education.

Jim Nowlan, president of the Taxpayer’s Federation of Illinois, has proposed a plan which would raise tuition by 100 percent. In effect, tuition at NIU would double, jumping from the nearly $1,000 present tab to almost $2,000.

Although specifics of the plan are still somewhat sketchy, the increased revenue would provide a large amount of financial aid to be doled out according to need. As a result, Nowlan claims those who can afford to pay more for higher education will do so.

This plan sounds strikingly similar to a plan announced last fall by Illinois State University President Thomas Wallace. The Wallace plan also takes from the rich and gives to the poor through a system of tuition increases and grants-in-aid.

While the idealism of the plans might have some broad-based appeal, they let the state off the hook. After all, it is the state’s responsibility to fund higher education at a level which ensures quality. The state has certainly not been living up tothat task. Yes, the state is going through tough times, but the legislature refuses to take the one step which would ease the tension – a tax increase. Politicians in Springfield feel that raising taxes is political suicide.

The plan might also limit accessibility for some middle-class students. The purpose of state-funded higher education is not to limit access.