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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

April 9, 2009 at 5:00 PM

Higher education

Tuition increase invites federal interference

Little understood is the relationship between increasingly higher college costs and government participation in higher education. In Wednesday’s article, “Gregoire: Raise tuition 14%” [page one, April 8], it becomes starkly evident.

Coming before Gov. Chris Gregoire’s proposal were “increases to federal Pell grants and education tax credits,” from which, according to the article, “families earning up to $160,00 would be no worse off” after the tuition increases “for the first year anyway.”

So here’s how it works: The federal government takes some of the income-tax money from citizens of Washington and turns around and offers some of it back for higher education. The state government seeing this “new money” coming into the state for higher education and raises the prices for said higher education.

Everything’s hunky-dory, except for the second year. Then, perhaps grants aren’t sufficient, so students and their families borrow from the government to pay for college. They become indebted — financially and emotionally — to the government.

So think of the cause and effect (supply and demand) for the huge inflation in college costs, and remember it began when our federal government started interfering in higher education. This is the government we want?

— Theodore M. Wight, Seattle

Consider alternatives first

It is too bad that raising tuition was proposed to balance state-university budgets as though that were the only option available.

How about increasing faculty teaching loads? They are low compared with community colleges.

How about freezing faculty salaries? They are graduating Ph.D.s, many of whom will not find work.

I know there are arguments on both sides of this issue. For me, the need to open opportunities for our young people trumps maintaining the status quo for faculty behavior.

— Edward J. Zoble, Port Angeles

Tax-supported school should serve state residents

UW President Mark Emmert is correct in his assessment that an education at UW is one of the great bargains among premier state universities [“Waving the white flag on higher education,” Opinion, April 8]. Raising tuition even 25 percent would still be a bargain. However, he is unlikely to get much support from the families of graduating high-school seniors in Washington state that cannot get a spot in our tax-supported school of higher education.

From my taxpaying perspective, first choice for selection should go to qualified in-state applicants who meet stated criteria — say, a decent GPA and a decent SAT score — before consideration is given to any out-of-state students. This should leave out any consideration of quasi-quotas for diversity of any type. In short, our tax dollars should educate our kids.

And no, this is not just sour grapes. Both of my kids had the opportunity to attend the UW and made other choices.

However, I know many families of high-school graduates who would have happily gone to UW as their first choice but were denied admission. The kids had good to excellent academic credentials, but there was no room at least in part because the UW has adopted admission objectives that go beyond educating the kids of our state.

If the UW wants to be a private institution, so be it and get off the tax rolls. Otherwise, educate our kids first and admit out-of-state and foreign students if there are any spots left.

— Darrell Fisk, Federal Way

Cut expenses, starting with salary

It would appear the president of the UW is not aware of the economic crisis we are in.

There are unemployed out there. But he does not approach a cutback of expenses in order to provide the same services.

Even the monsters of Wall Street have reduced salaries and bonuses, but I see no effort on his part to limit his salary and amenities for the sake of the overall good.

Please be a leader rather than a pleader.

— Maury Claeys, Hansville

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