'The bottom line' on University tuition hikes
Published: Wednesday, October 3, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, October 3, 2012 21:10
With college debt a concern for many, one Vermont lawmaker has jump-started a campaign to help struggling students and their families.
U.S. Rep. Peter Welch announced legislation to curb rising college tuition costs at UVM Sept. 24.
Welch described the College Cost Reduction Act as an essential step toward economic recovery during a speech in the John Dewey Lounge on campus.
“This is absolutely critical to revitalizing our middle class,” he said.
The rate of college tuition hikes, which have risen 1,120 percent in the past three decades, is unsustainable, Welch said.
“Wherever they’re going, they’re graduating with debt,” he said. “That’s the bottom line: it’s the business model that doesn’t work.”
If passed, a taskforce composed of representatives from government agencies and higher education institutions will make recommendations to President Obama of unnecessary and cumbersome federal regulations to do away with, Welch said.
“Some of the things that Congress has made the higher education community do are very expensive and not beneficial to better education outcomes or lower taxpayer expense,” Welch said.
After the recommendations are made, the president will have six months to present legislation to Congress. If approved, the Secretary of Education will establish enforced guidelines for colleges to curb tuition costs or pay a fine.
Joining Welch were Claudia Abbiati, a senior studying communication disorders and linguistics, and Chris Lamotte, a father of three whose eldest son is a sophomore at Champlain College.
Abbiati said that even as a full-time student, she has had to work two jobs in order to finance her tuition and living expenses.
“Paying for college has been such a struggle,” she said.
And with plans to attend graduate school, Abbiati said she continues to worry about how she will afford the cost of her education.
“It’s a constant anxiety, and I just don’t know when it’s going to stop,” she said. “And knowing that there will be even more money that I’m going to have to look for — it’s frightening.”
Lamotte said that the estimated $80,000 his family will spend on his son’s education amounts to more than he spent on his first home.
“With my middle son getting ready to start this process as well, it is somewhat staggering to think about the loans, the debts and the costs that will be incurred in the next few years,” he said.
Welch said wstories like Abbiati’s and Lamotte’s are all too common across the nation.
“Congress has been dysfunctional,” he said. “Congress has contributed to the problem, and we’ve got an obligation to contribute to the solution.