A Funding Fight Battled Everywhere

Recently the University of Kansas via KU News sent a tweet of the Chancellor’s testimony to the Kansas House Education Budget Committee (KU Article). Kansas is my alma mater and I bleed the crimson and blue, so to keep up to date with my Jayhawks I checked out the article. In doing so, I feel I gained valuable insight into the struggle that public institutions are facing in regards to state issued funding. In the testimony, Chancellor Gray-Little is essentially defending her institution’s need for government funding. As is commonly known, state issued government funding has declined for years all across our country. The Chancellor states, “KU’s state funding is down $124.4 million over the past 14 years.” Throughout the testimony, Chancellor Gray-Little describes the benefits of a Kansas education; not only for the students but for the entire state as reasons to continue the state’s support. In reading the transcript of the Chancellor’s words I felt an interesting mix of admiration of my progressing alma mater with its many accomplishments and stirring frustration with the current theme of dwindling state funding. While Kansas has an outstanding alumni supported endowment of $1.25 billion (2011)* to assist in compensating for the loss in funds, many institutions do not have this level of auxiliary support which forces students to shoulder this financial burden through tuition increases. This raises serious concerns for our students’ futures. Higher tuition and fees force students to request more loan money which leads to larger debts in an economy where jobs are at a premium and thus the ability to repay is compromised for many. If state funding continues to decline, what will be the breaking point for students? How can we make college more affordable? The approach the University of Kansas outlines for its response to the same question (KU’s Response). *Figures based on the 2012 National Association of College and University Business Officers and Commonfund Institute report.