Tuition goes up in Delaware and elsewhere: what to think?

    Tuition bills for the fall college semester are coming out and they aren’t getting any cheaper.  In his monthly newsworks contribution Rob Tornoe offers his spin on what that mean.


    Here is Rob Tornoe’s commentary. 

    A lot of hot air is being expelled by politicians these days about taking steps to make our businesses more competitive on the global market. But when it comes to two things nearly every work in this country experiences – education and health care – we’ll never be on a level playing field if we keep our current system intact.

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    This week, both University of Delaware and Delaware State University announced tuition increases of 4.4 percent and 4.5 percent, respectfully. The fact that tuition has increased is nothing new; the cost of higher education has skyrocketed 600 percent since 1980. University of Delaware even boasted their 4.4 percent increase was the lowest in 5 years, which is a small consolation to out-of-state students that will now have to shell out nearly $30,000 a year.

    How is our economy supposed to compete when new workers entering the workplace have what amounts to a home mortgage before their career even starts? In most industrialization nations, they figured out long ago this was a burden not only on students, but the economy as well, since all that money going to pay interest to banks wasn’t getting to the broader economy in terms of demand.

    The solution – government-subsidized higher education. In Scandinavian countries, tuition, room and board at all universities are completely covered by the state. In most of Europe, students pay only a small registration fee. Even at prestigious institutions like Oxford or Cambridge, tuition is maxed out well below levels at most of our state-run schools.

    I can already hear the cries of “socialism” coming my way (although, not many of you seem to criticize our “Marxist” system of public K-12 education). But the fact remains, we have a looming student debt crisis we need to deal with.

    We face a similar dynamic with health care. While our health care costs continue to rise, the largest burden falls on our businesses who provide health care to its employees. How is an American company incurring those costs supposed to compete with a French company that doesn’t have to pay a dime for their employee’s health care? I never hear that argument being made when we talk about creating jobs and strengthening American businesses.

    Student debt has already skyrocketed past $1 trillion, even greater that the nation’s credit card debt. And if you don’t think a generation burdened with $20,000 student loans and increasing health care costs isn’t harmful to our economy and our businesses, then I’d suggest signing up for some economics classes, regardless of the price.


    Rob Tornoe is a political cartoonist and a WHYY contributor. See more of his work at, and follow him on twitter @RobTornoe.

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