Rising costs eat up lottery scholarship | Arkansas Blog

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Rising costs eat up lottery scholarship

Posted By on Wed, Feb 23, 2011 at 10:00 AM

Easy come, easy go.

A friend just got the news of an increase in the cost of attending Hendrix College in Conway.

Tuition this year is $31,740; it will rise to $33,930 next year, or by $2,190, or 6.9 percent.

Full board this year is $4,440; it will rise to $4,746, a $306 increase, or 6.9 percent.

A standard dorm room is $4,646; it will rise to $4,968, a $322 increase, or 6.9 percent.

I'm not picking on Hendrix. We'll be looking at all colleges in Arkansas in the days ahead.

A 6.9 percent increase is a pretty big lick for most families. We live in a world where you're lucky to have a job, much less get a pay raise. Little Rock teachers were thrilled with a 1.5 percent pay raise this year. Many state employees got nothing. The good news is that interest rates are extremely low, utility bills have been fairly stable, consumer prices haven't been rising at a galloping rate (Middle East-impacted gasoline being a notable exception).

Apart from the question of how much of an increase is justified for college students next year is an issue closer to the heart of recent public policy issues: This freshman Hendrix student was one of the lucky recipients of an Arkanas Lottery scholarship — $5,000 this year. It may or may not be quite that much next year. But the rate increases just announced at Hendrix just ate up $2,818 of the scholarship benefit in a single year. At this rate, it will be long gone by his senior year.

The situation to follow is whether — knowing of the infusion of lottery money — colleges across Arkansas feel better able to push cost increases on students.

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