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Beer, College and Affordable Tuition
College students think a lot about beer. More than that, colleges are crucial to the future of beer. For example, North Dakota State University's Institute of Barley and Malt Sciences provides "research and education for U.S. barley producers and domestic and international malting and brewing industries." Cargill, MillerCoors and Anheuser-Busch InBev are some of the organizations supporting the Institute.

Simply put, colleges and universities are as essential to malting as they are to microchips, medicine, movies, the military and virtually every other facet of American life. What colleges often are not, however, is affordable.

Affordability concerns are growing at the same time that states are cutting funding and endowments are diminished by the financial crisis. The result is higher tuition. The Chancellor of the University System of Georgia recently said that it would take a 77% tuition increase to offset planned cuts in state assistance.

State funding cuts are taking place in an environment that finds the public increasingly skeptical about how well colleges are managed. A study by two NGOs, the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education and Public Agenda, found "no evidence of sympathy for the argument that colleges and universities are starved for financial resources." An official with the Center for College Affordability and Productivity said that "universities are viewed as being somewhat akin to used car dealers, trying to shake down their customers for as much money as possible."

There are various initiatives under consideration intended to make college more affordable. Changing the student loan system to bypass banks and institute direct federal government student loans is one example.

What the debate over college affordability needs is greater input from the most important watchdog over student interests, the students themselves. In addition to first-hand knowledge of affordability, students have a unique perspective on college management. Thus, Watchdog Watch is requesting that current or prospective undergraduate, graduate and doctoral students provide us with their views on the interrelated issues of how to make college more affordable, accessible and efficient. Comments should be sent to Students' views on college affordability will be published in a future column

See NDSU's Institute of Barley and Malt Sciences

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