Is the Univ. of Minnesota spinning its accessibility record?

In a letter published in today’s Minnesota Daily (7/27/11), Provost Tom Sullivan writes that total financial aid has increased from $81 million in 2004 to $152 million in 2010. At first glance, this seems like a large improvement, increasing by 87.6 percent over 6 years. But while this statistic is technically true, it is intentionally deceptive.

Over this same period of time, tuition has risen 48 percent (by 69 percent if one starts counting from the 03-04 school year, but at least 48 percent). Furthermore, the size of the undergraduate student body has grown 6 percent during this period of time and inflation has gone up between 15 (beginning of 2010) and 19 percent (end of 2010). These three factors account for a large portion, if not all, of the increase in the total dollar amount of financial aid. The lack of context in Sullivan’s letter gives readers a false impression.

Minnesota Daily Editorials & Opinions Editor Eric Murphy and the editorial board, who claim that the university is overstating its progress in making the U financially more accessible to aspiring students.

(The editorial seems a bit harsh, but it’s an interesting little piece.)

You can read the full editorial here and Sullivan’s piece here.

  • hftfiawh

    The Daily’s point is bizarre. You can’t count the increase in tuition AND the national inflation rate. If something increases at the inflation rate, then it is effectively staying constant in contemporary dollars. And, even IF it were true that the University had done no more than keep things constant from 2004-2010, has the Daily perhaps noticed that the State has disinvested hundreds of millions of dollars in annual funding over that time period? What exactly is the complaint about managing to keep tuition constant in the face of devastating State cuts? Seems pretty heroic to me… Such an entitlement generation — give me the best possible education and, oh, by the way, I want it for free.