The Student Voice of MU Since 1955
Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Column: High tuition today, low taxes tomorrow

Lowering tuition costs will lower the quality of education offered.

Marcus Bowen

April 20, 2009

Last week, Vice President Joe Biden visited Missouri and discussed college tuition costs in a meeting at UM-St. Louis. The Columbia Missourian reported Biden promised a group of students in the audience the government would work to help them pay for college. Biden spoke at length about federal programs President Barack Obama's administration plans to use to pay college tuition costs for more and more Americans.

Biden said the administration plans to cut out private lenders and increase the prevalence of federal grants. The administration plans will dramatically increase the federal government's role in paying for higher education.

Earlier this year, Gov. Jay Nixon agreed not to change the higher education budget. In exchange, UM system President Gary Forsee and other higher education officials at Missouri's public institutions agreed not to raise tuition. This newspaper supported Nixon's budget, and the agreement. I do not.

The governor's agreement with Forsee has effectively imposed wage and price controls on Missouri higher education. The university cannot function outside of the greater economy. As prices rise all around us, the costs of producing a quality product (a college education) will also rise for the university. Next year, inflation will effectively cause the university to have less money than this year. The university will not be able to produce the same quality product with less money.

The wage and price controls imposed by the governor's agreement will require the university to spend less money and offer fewer services than last year. This agreement has already prompted the UM system to impose a hiring freeze, limiting the amount of quality professors our campuses will recruit this year. Under the banner of making college more affordable, Nixon has effectively reduced the quality of education for all Missouri students.

According to The Associated Press, Sen. Kit Bond, R-Mo., said in a prepared statement, "I hope while in Missouri, Vice President Biden listens to Missourians who are saying loud and clear that the administration's budget taxes too much, borrows too much and spends too much." As usual, the senator had it right.

Democrats in Jefferson City and Washington are working hard to cement their lead among younger voters -- they hope to win us over with promises of cheap college. Although it sounds good now, these programs will ultimately cause far more damage than create opportunity. Nixon's program reduces the quality of higher education in Missouri, and Obama's program dramatically expands the role of the federal government in education finance.

Nixon's wage and price controls and Obama's proposed increases in government financed loans and grants will both act to expand the size and role of our government. Big government is always expensive, and soon it will be us paying the taxes. I'd rather pay a little more now and low taxes for the rest of my life. I favor small government today, small government tomorrow, small government forever.

Marcus Bowen is a former vice president of the MU College Republicans and serves with the Jackson County Republican Party. He can be reached at

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