The history of state universities is one in which the taxpayers of the state paid for a large portion of the funding for these institutions of higher learning in order to provide the students of their state an opportunity to earn a world-class education. Tuition was kept low for in-state students, while it was kept high for out-of-state students. Besides it generally being a good idea to educate one’s own populace, and to do so in an affordable way so that students’ education can be determined by merit and not just by means, there have also been economic considerations for the states to setup universities in this way. Universities graduate talented individuals who are in demand by employers, and who become entrepreneurs who start their own dynamic businesses. Students from within the state are more likely to stay in their own state upon graduation, thus more likely to provide a boost the the state’s economy, and therefore providing an incentive for the state to make it easier for in-state applicants to afford the world-class education provided by their state university.
This has all been a long-time part of the mission statement of these universities, so the above explanation should not come as a surprise. However, with the anti-education policies of the current Republican party, it has become a necessity to defend the mission of state universities. What is truly depressing about having to defend the mission of state universities from the anti-education policies of Republican politicians is that many of these Republican politicians took advantage of these same state universities to further their own education. They graduated from their state universities after having paid minimal tuition due to their state’s adequate funding for the universities. Now, they have been cutting funding for those same universities, forcing new in-state students to pay higher and higher tuition.
Here are some examples:
Former Iowa Republican Governor Terry Branstad grew up in Iowa and paid low in-state tuition to earn his Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Iowa.
Michigan Republican Governor Rick Snyder grew up in Michigan and paid low in-state tuition to earn three degrees from the University of Michigan.
South Dakota Governor Dennis Daugaard grew up in South Dakota and paid low in-state tuition to earn his Bachelor’s Degree from the University of South Dakota.
Former Kansas Republican Governor Sam Brownback grew up in Kansas and paid low in-state tuition to earn his Bachelor’s Degree from Kansas State University then his Law Degree from the University of Kansas.
Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin grew up in Oklahoma and paid low in-state tuition to earn her Bachelor’s Degree from Oklahoma State University.
Then, as Governor of Oklahoma, Mary Fallin cut over $100 million in funding for Oklahoma universities, which led to steep tuition increases.
It hasn’t just been Governors who have voted to cut funding and increase tuition for the same universities they were able to attend so affordably. It has also been Republican State Senators and Representatives, hundreds of them.
These Republican politicians walked in through the open door of their state universities, and have now been trying to shut the door behind them. Basically saying to the younger generations: screw you, I got mine.