The inflation rate of tuition in the US has been higher than the general economy's inflation rate for some time, sometimes it is twice as high What can the faculty do to stop/slow this down?
Use OERs instead of a commercial textbook! This wouldn't affect tuition, but it means students have more money to eat, pay rent, etc.
If you have any say about which texts/materials are used in your classes, then you can be directly responsible for saving students a lot of money.
In general, you might try bringing your concerns to the attention of higher administration.
For example, your university might have Faculty Senate meetings where all faculty members have the opportunity to speak (and where administrators are often present). You could show up, take the microphone, and say something like: "I know that tuition went up 7% this year, and my students have complained to me that they are having great difficulty meeting ends meet. Can I ask what the university is doing to make tuition as affordable as possible?"
You might not get a response, let alone a commitment, from anyone in charge -- but at least it's a way to let the right people know that you believe this is a priority. You might have still more influence if you sought out administrative roles yourself.
But, realistically, you probably can't do very much.
An alternative thing you might do instead is to bring textbook costs down for your students. Many faculty members assign expensive books ($200+) without thinking too much about the costs, when free or inexpensive options exist. One way in which you can directly save your students money is to avail yourself of such options. And even if you choose to use an expensive book, you can often arrange for a discount.
There are a number of things you can do as an individual faculty member to limit the growth of tuition:
- Limit your electricity usage. Don't turn on the lights in your office. Instead, purchase flashlights and batteries or candles at your own expense. Don't use a computer (or use a laptop, purchased at your own expense, that you charge at home).
- Volunteer to share your office with as many of your like-minded colleagues as you can pack in. Space and facilities are a huge expense for universities.
- Volunteer to teach more classes than you are required to do. Staffing is another major expense.
- Donate as much of your salary as you can (after your housing, flashlight, and laptop charging expenses) back to your employer. Note that in the US, this will generally be a tax-deductible donation, so take this into account and donate more.