UC tuition increase impractical

March 23, 2009 — by Elizabeth Lee

Following large budget cuts made by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to cope with the devastating state budget crisis, the University of California (UC) system has incurred a budget deficit of nearly $450 million. As a result, UC authorities have announced plans to cut enrollment for at least seven of its 10 campuses and hike tuition by 10 percent.

This is simply adding another pile to the mountain of difficulties the applicants are facing. To begin with, the task of acquiring a college degree is strenuous. As competition in high schools for applicants of the current generation is the highest it has ever been, the increase in tuition by the UC system is yet another obstacle that must be conquered. Students who were relying on the relative “cheap” cost of the UC system for in-state students will see their belts tighten as fees and tuition jump this year, and may jump again in the future. Expect to spend $25,000 a year at one of these “bargain” schools.

An example is that many qualified candidates who would have previously raised the quality of education are now being rejected due to cuts in class size, or worse, can no longer afford the tuition fee, and must attend college elsewhere. This will soon affect the UC system negatively, as they lose many strong students to other universities.

In addition, there is the irony of the situation; after making the radical decision to eliminate the requirement of SAT IIs, a change meant to help poor students, officials decided a week or so later to increase tuition. Any equal opportunity supposedly given to apply to a UC is immediately pointless if students can’t afford to pay tuition. Scholarships, which normally would have helped financially struggling students, are dwindling in size and number as the economy continues to plummet. This makes the UC system even less attractive to lower-income families, who would most likely receive much better financial aid packages from private schools and schools out of the state.

Instead of drastically raising tuition by nearly 10 percent this year, the UC system should have slowly increased the cost of attending a UC by a smaller, publicly announced, percentage annually. This would make it easier for families to figure out just how much the college tuition will cost them. For now, people should expect to pay at least $25,000 a year at one of these “bargain schools.” It is a large price, but then students should also consider that they are getting back a lot more from the quality education they pay for.

Although parents and students may be upset by this change, there isn’t much they can do. Applying for financial aid, or for the number of scholarships that are left to decrease financial burden remain the only two viable options for applicants. For the middle-class, median student, however, financial aid is rarely offered and scholarships are hard to come by. Meanwhile, they will have to wait for time to heal the economy. Perhaps then the state will restore college tuitions to reasonable rates once more.

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