Wednesday, December 16, 2009

A First-in-the-Nation Tax on College Tuition

Tuition fee increases are fairly common on college campuses lately, despite the uproar they usually provoke from students. However, the city of Pittsburgh is considering a different way to increase revenue from college tuition. They are hoping to impose a 1% local tax on tuition, which would make Pittsburgh the first place in the country to ever tax college tuition fees.

This announcement has frightened students, and taxpayers across the nation who fear that if the measure is passed that it will set an example for other government agencies to follow suit. According to the New York Times the Pittsburgh City Council is set to vote on the tax on Monday, which is expected to generate over $16 million in additional revenue for the city.

“It’s really a disappointment that we’re in this situation,” Mr. Ravenstahl said. “Our colleges and universities are giving less and less while they increase tuition and executive pay and expand their campuses, removing high-value land from the tax rolls. The cost to provide public safety and public works services continues to increase, but our revenue continues to decrease.”

The tax, which would take effect as early as July, would range from about $20 a year for students at cheaper schools like the Community College of Allegheny County to just over $400 for students at the city’s priciest university, Carnegie Mellon.

Other cities, like Boston and Providence, R.I., have also considered taxing college tuition, Mr. Urbina reports.

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