“I think you’ve almost guaranteed yourself a [tuition] freeze,” said Rep. Bob Martinson back in 2011 during a committee hearing in which legislators chastised North Dakota State University for a massive 8.8% tuition hike that went well beyond the guidelines legislators had set in the budget.
Today the North Dakota House had a chance to vote for a tuition freeze for the North Dakota University System with HB1328 introduced by Rep. Kylie Oversen (see my interview with her about the bill here), and they voted it down on a 29 – 60 vote (it’s worth noting that Rep. Martinson did, in fact, vote for the freeze).
In carrying the bill to the floor out of committee, where it had received a “do not pass” recommendation, Rep. David Rust said that the bill really isn’t a solution to soaring tuition rates. He’s right. The higher education bubble is being inflated by both national and state policies which subsidize college attendance through grants, government-backed loans and other policies. A two-year tuition freeze would only delay the problem, not fix it.
And it is a problem. As Rep. Oversen noted in her floor speech, North Dakota is 13th in the nation when it comes to per-student loan debt and 1st int he nation for the number of students leaving college with debt.
A freeze would have been a good thing, but only as a stepping stone to larger reforms. Unfortunately, the House today didn’t even take that first step.