States to Study Rising Costs of Higher EducationBOULDER, Colo.Five states have signed on to participate in a project to study the rapidly rising costs of higher education. The study, “Changing Direction: Integrating Higher Education Financial Aid and Financial Aid Policy,” will examine tuition, financial aid policies and state appropriations. It will seek ways to keep down costs, particularly fees that rise faster than tuition. Cheryl Blanco, director of policy analysis and research for the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education, one of the project sponsors, said the study is intended to help state legislators and other policy-makers improve financial aid and financing policies. Connecticut is one of the states participating in the study. Despite tuition freezes in 1999 and 2000, the University of Connecticut and the Connecticut State University system rank among the top 10 costliest state universities in the country. Tuition at CSU increased by 9.1 percent, to $4,153. A technology fee rose by more than 33 percent. In addition, annual tuition at the community college system will rise by 5 percent this fall to $1,764 after holding steady for two years. Across the nation, tuition at public colleges and universities increased an average 7.7 percent for the 2002-03 academic year. Connecticut officials, in particular, are concerned that state budget problems, collective bargaining increases of about 5 percent and growing costs for technology, utilities and debt servicing could boost tuition as state financial aid is cut. State education officials hope the study will recommend changes in time for next year’s legislative session. Other states involved in the study are Arizona, Florida, Missouri and Oregon. The study is a project of the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education and its partners, the State Higher Education Executive Officers and the Center for Policy Analysis at the American Council on Education, funded by the Lumina Foundation for Education. For more information visit <www.wiche.edu/home.htm>.
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