Tuition hikes dooming and deterring students

January 20, 2015 — by Lauren Louie and Arman Vaziri

An education should be a right, not a privilege. But with the University of California’s recent announcement of an annual 5 percent tuition increase over the next five years, higher education is rapidly turning into a nightmare of student debts.

An education should be a right, not a privilege. But with the University of California’s recent announcement of an annual 5 percent tuition increase over the next five years, higher education is rapidly turning into a nightmare of student debts.

Currently, tuition for students ($12,192) is above the national average of $9,100 a year by about $3,000. And with the passing of this increase, tuition will be as high as $15,560 in 2019 for undergraduate California students. For out-of-state students, tuition will cost from $35,000 to $45,000.

UC President Janet Napolitano, who took the position in late 2013, proposed the increase. Raised tuition would support pay increases, the rising retirement costs and additional instructors and students. According to Napolitano, chancellors are long overdue for a raise and are paid far less than those in other states.

So while tuition increase is devastating already struggling students, chancellors are accepting pay increases. The looming student debts already deter applicants from quality education. A college education should open doors rather than chain students down with debt.

As expected, this was strongly opposed. Already the state supplies around $2.8 billion of the university system’s nearly $7 billion operating budget. Gov. Jerry Brown generously offered to increase state funding by 4 percent, around $120 million each year, for the next two years, providing that the board freezes tuition. This is despite the 5 percent increase that has already been active in the last two years.

But Napolitano says that they would need more — around 9 percent annually — in order to provide for the “necessary” pay increases, admitted students, etc.

None of these reasons beg immediate attention. Chancellors are not living paycheck to paycheck. Some students don’t even have time to pay off debts  when school responsibilities don’t leave time for a job.

No employee raise should come out of the pockets of struggling students. This injustice was vocalized through various protests, walkouts and occupations. From Berkeley to Irvine, students occupied, staged sit-ins and rallied. Regardless, their voices were ignored.

Students are not asking for much; all they want is an affordable education as to further build on their intellect, providing themselves with a better future.

The UCs are supposedly public universities. But with climbing tuitions, they remain available to a very narrow public: the privileged public. Not to mention the surplus of out of state students given they pay higher tuitions.

Education is promoted immensely in our communities, but impossible costs are deterring students from actually receiving this education. Graduates with student debt leave school with a burdening weight, instead of the liberated feeling that should come with a degree.

If the University of California system truly wants to aid its students, additional instructors aren’t needed right now. Increasing tuition, increasing paychecks, increasing the budget — none of this is worth decreasing the average student’s quality of life. Students need education to be an actual possibility, not an impossible dream.

Whether it be from taxpayers’ pocket or the students’, education costs — that is undeniable. But as of now, especially now, the balance of burden is resting heavily on the backs of 19 to 23 year olds. Their education can’t even be fully embraced when they’re worrying about money.

This isn’t “the real world,” it’s an unjust world. Although it may not seem so, lowering tuition, and therefore providing an affordable education, benefits us all. Trust that education accessed by society as a whole will pay off in the future.