TheTimesTribune.com, Corbin, KY

Editorials

January 27, 2014

Priced out of a college education

CORBIN — We got a look at Gov. Steve Beshear’s proposed budget last week. As he’d warned, there are “harmful cuts” in several areas in order to “reinvest” in education or at least the portion funding K-12.

But at a time when President Barack Obama and national pundits talk about the growing income gap between the very rich and the rest of us, Beshear’s budget again cuts funding for higher education.

Those who scream “class warfare” anytime someone talks about the growing concentration of wealth among the top income groups often counter that those at the top got there through merit, hard work and wiser choices — including a better education. (Data suggest otherwise, but that’s a discussion for another time.)

All we ever hear from economic development officials, business leaders and often from the conservatives who defend the status quo is that “the jobs of the future” will require at least two years of post-secondary education or a four-year degree.

Gov. Beshear and Republican U.S. Congressman Hal Rogers recently convened a summit to develop strategies for overcoming poverty and unemployment in southeastern Kentucky and education was one such strategy. The General Assembly’s top two lawmakers — Senate President Robert Stivers, R-Manchester, and House Speaker Greg Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg — hail from the area.

Stumbo says one obstacle to prosperity in the region is the lack of a four-year public university and wants to divide the shrinking education funding pie further by making University of Pikeville a public institution. Stivers says we “don’t have a revenue problem, we have a spending problem.” It’s hard to find many Kentucky lawmakers willing to talk about tax reform or new revenue.

Beshear’s budget, which cuts higher education by another 2.5 percent, “fully funds” KEES Scholarships, money from the lottery which provides “merit-based” scholarship money for those who make better grades in high school. Of course, the students who benefit most from KEES are those from higher income homes. Meanwhile, the budget provides no extra money for “need-based” scholarships for those who can’t afford college.

The cuts continue a decade of declining funding for higher education. In 2000, students and parents paid 32 percent of the cost of an education at a public university while the state covered 68 percent. Today, the percentages are reversed: students and parents pick up 62 percent and the state 38 percent — that’s before this latest 2.5 percent cut.

Dr. Wayne Andrews, president of Morehead State University, noted that MSU’s General Fund budget in 2008 was $49 million and is “now $41 million and falling. We’re putting the difference on the backs of our students.”

Politicians and college administrators often respond by saying rising tuition costs are only “the sticker price” and there is plenty of financial aid available — but much of it is in the form of interest bearing loans.

I frequently encounter young and extremely bright, hard-working college graduates with good-paying jobs who are mired deep in debt from college loans. Some are delaying marriage. Others who are married can’t afford a mortgage. Most will be paying off those debts into middle age. Increasingly, they’re the lucky ones. More and more despair of a college education at all.

Kentucky’s political leaders tout the progress Kentucky has made in education rankings. They pass legislation to require more “academic rigor” in high schools so more students will graduate “college ready.”

But those same lawmakers (most of whom benefited from yesteryear’s low tuition rates) refuse to acknowledge they’re pricing a college education out of the reach of nearly everyone but the wealthy. Sometimes it looks a little like class warfare to me.

RONNIE ELLIS writes for CNHI News Service and is based in Frankfort. Reach him at rellis@cnhi.com. Follow CNHI News Service stories on Twitter at www.twitter.com/cnhifrankfort.

1
Text Only
Editorials
  • LIKE IT OR NOT: MLB's All Star effort was a bust

    With the 85th edition of Major League Baseball’s All-Star game in the books, I have to say I feel like the whole thing was a complete bust.

    July 18, 2014

  • THE WAY IT IS: Some local teams can make a run

    Well folks, our Little League All-Star action is beginning to wind down, and I’ve been fortunate enough to see two of the Tri-County’s resp

    July 17, 2014

  • LIKE IT OR NOT: It's been a very busy summer

    While a lot of people would expect the local sports scene to slow down in the Tri-County in the summer time, that’s not usually the case for us here at the Times-Tribune.

    July 16, 2014

  • John Ross.jpg May we all cherish those few WWII vets who still live

    I watch this old BBC program pretty often called “Are You Being Served?” It’s mostly out of syndication — what shows remain can be seen most often through PBS.

    July 10, 2014 1 Photo

  • 0502 Bobbie Poynter So long, farewell, auf wiedersehen, adieu

    I never have been very good at saying goodbye — family, friends, co-workers, neighbors, community — for years you’ve had my back and in turn, I believe I’ve had yours.

    July 7, 2014 1 Photo

  • Ronnie Ellis.jpg ‘Uh hummm!’ It’s been an interesting week

    One column can’t cover everything from a busy week of political events, but here are some quick takeaways from last week.

    July 7, 2014 1 Photo

  • Brad Hall.jpg Let’s multiply our numbers like fleas do

    Last Saturday, my wife, Carmen, and I spent the day at the Kings Island theme park near Cincinnati, Ohio.

    July 7, 2014 1 Photo

  • John Burkhart.jpg Not an earthly trace

    Just married (1897) and in his late 20’s, my grandfather was determined to make a living on a hillside farm covered in wilderness; much as his father had done before him in 1846  when he arrived from Germany.

    July 7, 2014 1 Photo

  • Brad Hall.jpg Col. Mustard with the candlestick in Heaven

    One of my favorite movies is the murder mystery comedy “Clue,” which is based on the popular board game of the same name.

    June 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • John Burkhart.jpg Now or Never

    A story is told of an old widower who decided it was time to find a new wife. He chose to look for this new bride through the obituaries column; identifying new widows.

    June 30, 2014 1 Photo

Front page
Featured Ads
Twitter Updates
Follow us on twitter
AP Video
Arizona Prison Chief: Execution Wasn't Botched Calif. Police Investigate Peacock Shooting Death Raw: Protesters, Soldiers Clash in West Bank Police: Doctor Who Shot Gunman 'Saved Lives' 'Modern Family' Star on Gay Athletes Coming Out MN Twins Debut Beer Vending Machine DA: Pa. Doctor Fired Back at Hospital Gunman Raw: Iowa Police Dash Cam Shows Wild Chase Obama Seeks Limits on US Company Mergers Abroad Large Family to Share NJ Lottery Winnings U.S. Flights to Israel Resume After Ban Lifted Official: Air Algerie Flight 'probably Crashed' TSA Administrator on Politics and Flight Bans Raw: National Guard Helps Battle WA Wildfires Raw: Ukraine's Donetsk Residents Flee Senators Push to End Hamas Threat in Cease-Fire A Young Victim's Premonition, Hug Before MH17 Raw: Deadly Storm Hits Virginia Campground Death Penalty Expert: 'This is a Turning Point' Raw: MH17 Victim's Bodies Arrive in Netherlands
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide