Obama’s college plan should set example for CMU

Predictably, Carnegie Mellon is raising its tuition. In an email sent to the campus community on Jan. 14, Vice President for Campus Affairs Michael Murphy announced that students entering college in the next academic year will pay a total of about $63,240, an increase of 3.38 percent from the previous year.

At last year’s rates, Carnegie Mellon ranked fifth most expensive private university in the United States, behind only Columbia University, Sarah Lawrence College, Vassar College, and Trinity College, according to USA Today. Though these other schools will likely also experience tuition increases, our new tuition raises us to third place by last year’s rates. That’s not a bronze medal to be proud of.

While a leveling off of costs, let alone a decrease, is undoubtedly too much to ask, The Tartan asks Carnegie Mellon to be more transparent about the reasoning behind these costs. What is our tuition money going toward exactly, and why must costs be so high?

Carnegie Mellon is increasingly expensive at a time when the government finally seems to be taking strides to make higher education affordable. President Barack Obama has proposed a plan that would provide all American students two free years of community college, given they maintain a 2.5 GPA and demonstrate steady progress toward an associates degree or a transfer to a four-year university. The federal government would pick up 75 percent of the costs, with states covering the rest.

Obama’s community college initiative is revolutionary and long overdue. The initial public reaction to its unveiling has been overwhelmingly positive, and it seems the only thing that might stop it from happening is opposition from the Republican Congress. America is desperately in need of education reform, and the President’s plan would drastically improve the lives of millions of students and increase education opportunities across the nation.

As Obama outlined in his State of the Union address Tuesday, college should be “as free and universal in America as high school is today.” The Tartan hopes that this will be the first step toward more affordable college education in general. Private, far-from-free universities such as Carnegie Mellon should take a page from President Obama’s book, and keep his plan in mind when the time comes to discuss next year’s tuition.