Temple Tuition Tamp-Down Shows Wake-Up Calls Work

During last year’s budget season, I was pretty critical of Temple University for raising tuition by ten percent while its administrators joined in the Chicken Little routine (“The sky is falling!”) that followed Gov. Tom Corbett’s first budget address.  I also made a promise:  If Temple tried a different tack, namely responding to Gov. Corbett’s wake-up call with substantive reforms, I’d praise them accordingly.  Well, I’m here to deliver.

As the Patriot-News and Inquirer are reporting, this year Temple is not only holding its in-state tuition increase within the limits of the new budget deal, but is actually ensuring that next year’s freshmen from Pennsylvania will pay the same as this year’s.  Like any victory in the messy arena CF inhabits, that’s a start, not the sum total of every reform that needs to happen, but it’s definitely praiseworthy.

Hannibal SmithThere’s no denying that Pennsylvania’s current fiscal reality, in higher education and beyond, is ugly.  That’s why Gov. Corbett has had to issue a wake-up call.  But here’s the good thing about a wake-up call:  Sometimes people wake up.  And when they do, a painful reckoning can produce positive changes.  We saw something similar at Penn State last year when, despite its then-president’s cries of poverty, it instituted its smallest tuition increase in years.  Now Temple has upped the ante.  The next question is, what will its peers do?  Might they actually, dare I say it, compete for who can keep tuition the lowest?  What a turnaround that would be for taxpayers.

To quote the great American Hannibal Smith, “I love it when a plan comes together.”