Photograph by Nina Smith
College tuition has risen dramatically over the past few decades; in fact, the average cost per year at public colleges has gone up by $9,500 since 1980. For most families, it’s nearly impossible to pay for such exorbitant tuitions. Ironically, colleges are justifying tuition hikes with the growing necessity for financial aid. The real predicament is getting the government to increase funding.
In January, the University of California (UC) voted to raise their yearly tuition by another $342, stating that they would use the collective $137 million surplus to offer more financial aid, as well as school improvements. The UC’s decision has sparked protests by students who cannot afford to pay any more money.
It is critically important that we work towards a better educated America; everyone’s potential deserves to be realized. If we do not adjust the price range for higher education, folks from less privileged backgrounds will not receive an education at all. The already prominent demographic of uneducated minorities will continue to increase if there are frequent tuition hikes, deepening our country’s power imbalance.
Unfortunately, this comes at a time when government funding is being cut in many departments, and the only response is to raise tuition. The appropriate solution is to stop making budget cuts, which students are petitioning for, however that’s a tall request to make of a government who spends 6.28 percent of their federal discretionary funds on education.
The tuition hike makes some sense. Financial aid for those who can’t afford the hike will be funded by wealthy students who can, and the ones losing money would be students with more than they need. That said, not everyone who needs financial aid is awarded it. Tuition hikes take away money from families who sacrifice basic needs and will pay off debt long into the future.
The appropriate response to this government tuition hike is not to sit by idly. We see the consequences of budget cuts represented in our daily lives; one familiar example: many elementary and middle schools that once offered cooking classes for all grades can now only afford classes for some grades. To start taking more money out of our own pockets is a step too far. For the students of tomorrow, we must continue to protest the drastic governmental decisions being made.