Today’s blog comes from Rachel Gustafson, APSCUF’s summer intern. She is a senior communications student at Edinboro University. We hope you enjoy her story. For more student perspectives, please visit the APSCUF student testimonials page. If you have your own story to share, please leave it in the comments!
Just as legislators were voting on the final version of the state budget, the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) Board of Governors met June 29-30 to set tuition for the upcoming school year. As business began, the atmosphere was tense, like a rain cloud loomed overhead or, in this case, the weight of some very difficult decision-making. Most expected the board to enact a tuition increase to help close the $111 million funding gap left by state budget cuts. The question remained: how much of the gap would students have to make up?
After some discussion, the board enacted a 7.5 percent tuition increase, as well as a significant bump in the technology fee. However, even after the hike the PASSHE schools would still have a $33 million shortfall.
Given the 18 percent cut in the state appropriation, the board’s student representatives voted in favor of the tuition increase, with one saying, “This is our contribution to closing up the appropriation gap and trying to maintain our standards at our institutions.”
The student ambassadors from West Chester, Millersville and California University of Pennsylvania assured the board it was a hard decision to choose between what their peers desired — either no tuition increase or a very small one — and what the State System needed. Unfortunately, a tuition increase was necessary to preserve the promise of a high-quality education.
As a senior at Edinboro University, I can empathize with the student representatives on the board. In the spring of 2007, I was faced with making the decision that all college hopefuls have to make: where do I want to receive my education? I chose to attend Edinboro University because I had heard wonderful things about its communications department. Of course, it wasn’t until I got to Edinboro and began classes that I felt like I had made the right decision. Now, as a senior, I know I made the right decision.
PASSHE schools, including Edinboro, are dedicated to providing their students with the tools they need to succeed in the work force. As a communications student, I knew I would need to know more than how to write a news release and how to deliver a speech to reach the lofty goals I have set for myself. I would need to learn things like strategic communication planning, research methods and the philosophy of rhetorical thinking. I have learned all of those things and more through the patience and diligence of hard-working faculty members.
High-quality programs, small class sizes and professors that are dedicated to excellence are among the many things that make PASSHE schools stand out in the crowd. I don’t mind paying more money to attend a school that urges its faculty to stay current on the subjects they teach. And I certainly don’t mind paying more money to ensure that every class I attend is taught by a faculty member, not a graduate assistant.
My professors are top-notch in their fields. Each one is easy to approach and is always willing to better the life of a student through individual attention. I appreciate the board’s decision regarding tuition as it will inevitably maintain PASSHE’s quality educational experience.