Over the past five years, higher education in Alabama has seen its appropriations slashed by 30 percent. Only Louisiana, New Hampshire and Arizona have cut their colleges more.
What legislatures are doing is telling colleges that if they want to keep programs going, keep equipment up to date and hire quality faculty, they must come up with the money themselves.
One of the ways colleges have approached this is through distance-learning classes. Serving students away from campus represents the fastest-growing market in education today. It also is one of the most competitive, so to tap into his market, colleges need the flexibility to set tuition and fees so that they compete.
This is why it is important that House Bill 123 in the Alabama Legislature becomes law.
This bill is designed to head off a proposal that would take distance-learning tuition decisions out of the hands of college governing boards and have those decisions made by the Legislature.
Earlier in this year’s session, the House overwhelmingly passed the bill; it now awaits Senate action. This page encourages senators to bring this bill to a vote before the session ends late in the evening next Monday. We hope they will pass it and send it to the governor for his signature.
The Legislature does not need to get involved in setting tuition rates for distance-learning programs at Alabama colleges and universities.