White House Discussion: Tuition

Posted by Judy Anne Cavey on Dec 5, 2011 in , , | No Comments

Today, an important meeting in Washington, D.C. regarding college affordability and productivity is taking place.

It would appear your voices have been heard–loud and clear–”enough is enough”, regarding outrageous tuition increases nationwide. A rare meeting is taking place at the White House to discuss affordability and productivity in higher education with President Obama, presidents and chancellors of 10 colleges: public universities, large state university systems and private institutions. Also in attendance: Arne Duncan, Secretary of Education, White House advisers, Jane Wellman of Delta Project on Postsecondary Costs, Productivity and Accountability and Jamie Merisotis of the Lumina Foundation.

The Agenda

The invitation for this gathering, sent out by Melody Barnes, director of the White House Domestic Policy Council, stated the discussion will focus on “…increasing access and success as well as how to make higher education more affordable…” Considering college tuitions have increased a reported 498.31% in thirty years, millions of Americans feel it’s about time policymakers stepped in to investigate this long neglected issue.

According to Inside Higher Ed, “The presidents will be asked for their perspectives on increasing productivity, access and attainment, as well as how to create change at colleges and universities.” Change is what’s necessary to fix all that is broken.

Previous Gatherings

Today’s meeting coincides with previous meetings President Obama has had with leaders in other sectors and CEO’s of some of the largest corporations in the U.S., and another White House hosted summit on community colleges, headed by the vice president’s wife, Jill Biden, a community college educator herself.

In a statement this past week, Arne Duncan implored colleges and universities rectify “…with much greater urgency…”, rising tuition costs.

Last Tuesday’s subcommittee hearing between members of Congress and several witnesses, brought discussions on rising college costs and possible solutions to the never ending increases students face.

Future Gatherings

Guess who’s been invited to the White House? StudentMentor.org’s founders! On December 15th, both Ashkon and Stephanie will discuss the necessity for a higher rate of students completing college.

As a nonprofit focused on meeting the need for mentors nationwide, StudentMentor.org has grown in leaps and bounds over the last year. We want to continue to do all we can to further that effort. Accepting an invitation to the White House is just one big step in the right direction.

Students in Policymaking

Recently, in one of my Tweets, I suggested students become more involved with policymaking on their campuses, then was directed to the Center for American Progress, advocating the same. I downloaded their extensive proposal, Including More Student Voices in Higher Education Policymaking. Having only read a small portion so far, it would appear their proposal covers all of the hot-button topics being discussed by students, and provides solutions to some of those topics.

The “Occupy” movement succeeded in bringing national attention to tuition increases and student debt, to name only two issues. This is a ripe time for students to take the next step–inclusion in all forms of policymaking on campus and seek out transparency of all expenditures. It’s also a prime time for parents, grandparents, legal guardians–and anyone who is an American taxpayer–to step up, making their voice be heard inside the walls of public education. After all, it’s your money that funds public education in this country. Shouldn’t you be aware of how every penny is spent?

Keep discussions alive, become involved, search for ways to improve our educational system. Now is the time.


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