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Let’s Talk About Tuition

27 Pages 6821 Words November 2017

Statement of the Problem
In 2013, Youngstown State University raised their tuition nearly 3%, marking the fifth consecutive year of tuition increases at this regional public university (Another academic year at YSU, 2013). This has occurred for some reasons, including increased competition from community colleges, reduced state funding for the university, and economic improvements that typically drive down college enrollments. For example, Ohio has reduced state funding for public universities nearly 30% over that same 5-year span (Malcolm & McMinn, 2013). That being said, this increase in tuition comes at a time that there is a national debate about the value of higher education, marked by a proposal from the Obama administration that focuses on rating colleges based on their return on investment (ROI), such as tuition, graduation rates, and students’ post-graduation earnings. The implication being that some colleges may be charging too much for a product that may not increase students’ long-term income. The plan will tie a college’s funding to their rating on these new measures of ROI (Lewin, 2013). This national conversation has serious regional implications, and therefore will be the focus of this study.
The issue is one of “value,” or whether the cost of education pays off in the long term. To explore this issue, this project will involve applying the concept of framing to media coverage of YSU. In particular, gain and loss framing will be explored in the news coverage of YSU marketing and communications, in both the news stories that are published in the region and the comments on those stories that reflect people’s interpretations of tuition increases. First, I look at the context of the tuition hikes at YSU. The Case of YSU: From Freezes to Increases 2008 through 2013. There was a tuition freeze at YSU in both 2008 and 2009 (Gwin, 2008, 2009). But, in subsequent years, there were incremental tuition increas...

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