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Published: Saturday, 1/20/2007

A break for UT students

UNIVERSITY of Toledo President Lloyd Jacobs' announcement that there won't be a tuition increase this fall has drawn a collective sign of relief and choruses of "hallelujah" from students and parents. This will be the first year UT hasn't boosted tuition since Richard Nixon was president. Given the constant increases, 6 percent and up over the last decade, it's about time students get a break.

That's not to say that the tuition hikes are all UT's fault. Since state support for higher education has dwindled substantially, students have had to pay a greater share. It's too early to know if the university will be able to extend the tuition freeze to the spring semester of 2008.

What is known is that the freeze has not been extended to students in the graduate and law schools. Only in-state students and some of their Michigan peers enrolled full time in undergraduate programs will benefit. Now, tuition is $7,929, which is a 6 percent increase in the annual rate from last year's $7,491.

For an idea of how much our world has changed, the last time tuition stayed the same at UT was in 1974, when it was $780, less than 10 percent of what it is now.

This comes at a time when most two- and four-year state colleges are under pressure to enroll more students. Private colleges and universities are considering innovative approaches to draw and keep students, too. A few years ago, at least one private Ohio college, Wilberforce University near Dayton, held tuition at the same rate for a couple of years, to the relief of its students and parents.

It was appropriate that Dr. Jacobs made the announcement during UT's Unity Day Celebration, held on the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., holiday. Dr. Jacobs said the offer was intended to "make higher education more accessible and more affordable for all, to help in a small way to actualize Dr. King's dreams."

It may not be small to those struggling to pay tuition, that's for sure. Checkbooks have no ethnicity, and the tuition freeze is sure to be received with widespread appreciation by every student at UT.

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