Easy come, easy go | Arkansas Blog

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Easy come, easy go

Posted By on Thu, Mar 18, 2010 at 6:35 AM

The lottery money is rolling in far beyond expectations and Arkansas families with qualifying college students will happily accept $5,000 scholarships to attend four-year colleges in 2010-11.

But note how quickly that bonus can erode.

The state has cut budgeted spending for colleges. Already the colleges are reacting. A committee at Arkansas State University has recommended a round (sub. reqd.) of tuition and fee increases for next year.

Check it out:

* A 4 percent increase in tuition, currently $163 per credit hour for in-state students. So that's about $6.50 per hour, or $90 per semester and $180 for the year for a 15-hour full load.

* A $3/hr. increase in the athletic fee. That's $90 per year for a 15-hour load. Also a $3/hr. capital improvements fee, again $90 for 15 hours per semester.

* Math and science courses will cost students a whopping $42 $17.50 extra per undergraduate credit hour under the proposal (which still requires Board approval). Take one three-hour math or science course per semester and you're spending $105  more per year. It's $42/hr. if you're a grad student.

Add it all up for a student taking a math or science course and you're looking at $465 more per year, or more than 9 percent of that lottery scholarship gone up in smoke because the school somehow had to make up for shortcomings in state support. If you're a math science major it'll cost way more. The numbers will be worth a look in 10 years or so.

South Carolina (home of Ernie P.) has already demonstrated what we can expect.

South Carolina’s system of lottery scholarships was based upon Georgia’s HOPE scholarships, touted at the time as a success and a key reason for voters to award the state a gambling monopoly. However, the Policy Council report notes that a Harvard economist who studied the impact of the HOPE scholarships in Georgia found that “schools, both public and private, responded to the new (indirect) infusion of money by ratcheting up spending and raising tuition, fees and other student charges,” the report states. “In some cases, the schools recouped nearly a third of the scholarship.”

Little surprise, then, that the same has happened in South Carolina. In a state already troubled with an ailing primary school system and widespread poverty, the national study reports that even after financial aid assistance, poor and low-income families must devote approximately 34 percent of their income to cover tuition and fees.

“While the Education Lottery was designed to cut the amount families paid for college, the infusion of money … has driven up tuition so high that its growth has actually outpaced the savings it initially offered to students in the form of scholarships,” the Policy Council report states.


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