College costs: How much is too much?

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Some time in the next few months, I’m going to go on the News Cut Campus Tour, a chance to talk to college students about their outlook for their future. But today is a good time to ask one of the key questions: How much is too much?

The University of Minnesota Board of Regents on Friday approved a two-year budget that will increase the tuition for students by 9 percent. The U will also ask the Legislature for another $141 million on top of the $1.5 billion it gets now, the Star Tribune reports this morning.

The announcement came on the same day the U’s athletic department conducted a media tour of its new football stadium, originally a $248 million project that was originally to cost the state about $100 million. It’s up to $137 million now, not far from the amount the U will ask for when the Legislature returns.

With or without the football stadium, the U would be increasing tuition; it’s been doing so for years. If you’re a parent of a soon-to-be-college-bound student, where’s the tipping point for you? If you’re a current student, is there any price that would make you pursue a degree elsewhere? If not, what’s your plan for paying off your debt in an economy in which jobs are becoming more scarce?

A commenter on the University of Minnesota Daily newspaper Web site asks even more questions:


Why do U of M undergraduates bear the highest debt load of any students in the Big Ten? More than Michigan, five grand more than Iowa and Wisconsin, and ten grand more than Illinois.

If you’re about to begin the college search process, here’s an idea to consider — let News Cut follow you over the next months or years as you decide. I’ll select one family. If you’re interested, contact me.

  • Bonnie

    Very interesting topic to explore. I want to know why the U of M Mpls is so much more expensive than, say, U of W Madison. It seems that Wisconsin gives it residents a much bigger edge, in both admit qualifications and money. Not just undergrad, but graduate and professional programs.