In Fight Between School and State, Students Are Victims

By Andrew Santis

First, some good news for us college students: according to College Board, the increased tuition and fee prices for public and private nonprofit institutions between 2013-2014 and 2014-2015 are lower than the average annual increases in over 30 years.

And now for the bad news: college tuition and fees are gradually going up.

For our University of California (U.C.) counterparts, whose tuition rates have been the same for the past three years, this news was irrelevant to them.

Until now.

Last month, the U.C. Board of Regents voted in favor of U.C. President Janet Napolitano’s proposition to increase tuition by five percent for each of the next five years.

This means a California resident’s undergraduate tuition and fees (not including room and board) would increase to as much as $15,564 in the 2019-20 academic year from the current $12,192, while an out-of-state student would have to pay around $45,000 a year in 2019 compared to $35,000 this year.

Welcome to the club, U.C. students.

The main reason for the tuition increase is inadequate state funding for the university.

Although I have a strong feeling that Napolitano’s “necessary” proposal was more of a tactic to pressure California Governor Jerry Brown’s administration to allocate funds for U.C., she does have a point.

State budgets for higher education all over the U.S. were drastically cut as a result of the recession that started in 2007.

At public institutions, like the University of California, total state fiscal support declined by 16 percent from $90.5 billion in 2007 to $76.2 billion in 2013 according to College Board’s “Trends in College Pricing 2014.” Education experts argue that the decline in state funding is the primary reason for tuition inflation in recent years.

If states are not going to allocate enough money for colleges and universities, higher education institutions are forced to find another source for funds. Raising tuition on a yearly basis is the easiest way. There is also fundraising and alumni contributions.

Accepting more out-of-state and international students who pay higher or full tuition is another approach. This method is controversial, however.

A recent article in The Wall Street Journal sheds light on schools decreasing enrollment of qualified in-state students for nonresident students just because the latter pays more.

No matter how you look at it, students and their families are the victims in this whole ordeal. Some students will take out hefty loans to cover tuition expenses and will graduate with a mountain of student loan debt.

Low-income students will be discouraged by a college’s price tag and thus automatically overlook the school for a school that is more affordable.

If one were to pinpoint the root of this problem, one would have to blame state governments. Were it not for budget cuts, it is very much possible that tuition at public state colleges would not be ballooning at the rate that it is. There is a demand for high-quality (which is not synonymous with outrageously expensive) education as demonstrated by increasing enrollment every year. A college degree is still a worthwhile investment, despite how expensive it may be.

Students deserve to benefit from being educated at some of the best institutions in the world.

They should not be deprived of an education because cost is an issue.

Let us hope that the trend of slower tuition increases continues so that America’s colleges and universities can become affordable for talented and intelligent future generations.


Andrew Santis, GSB ’16, is a marketing major from Queens, New York.


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