Thursday, March 15, 2007

My wallet is crying!

The Chronicle's article about the hike in student fees is called: "UC, CSU reach again for students' wallets." I think it is more like they are taking our wallets away. As the article points out, this is the fifth increase in six years. Even better:

Regents acknowledged this is probably not the end of annual increases for UC students. Since the 2001-02 school year, undergraduate tuition has climbed 92 percent at UC's campuses and 94 percent at CSU's schools.
In other words, the cost of attending San Jose State University has almost doubled for me since I first attended back in the fall of 2001. And it is going to keep going up!

This is a huge problem for California. Since 1850, the state has been building a quality educational system (starting with SJSU) that has prided itself in being affordable and accessible to people who would not be able to get an education anywhere else. Now, we are raising the cost so only the wealthy and the poor can attend. The wealthy can afford to go anywhere and the poor can qualify for financial aid. Most students, including myself, are left out in the cold.

This is especially damaging to SJSU. For years, the university has been fighting its image as a commuter school. Until now, I would have argued that the university has done a good job and SJSU is no longer a commuter school. But with costs continuing to skyrocket, students will be forced to work more hours and go to school less. This will make SJSU a permanent commuter school.

The people that can afford to be full-time students will go to Stanford and Berkley and the people who have to work a job or two just to pay for tuition will take a class, when they can, at SJSU. It will take people more years to graduate as they spend less time at school in extra curricular activities and more time working.

It also needs to be emphasized that this is a raise just in the basic fee to attend a UC or CSU. There are hundreds of dollars extra tacked onto the cost of attending the school by the individual campuses. SJSU is currently considering a large fee increase to pay for a Student Union remodel and other projects.

Plus, fees are only a small part of the cost of education. As I have said before, textbook prices are out of control. As the Mercury News points out:
A recent report by the California Postsecondary Education Commission, an advisory panel to state lawmakers on higher-education issues, found that non-fee-related costs - such as gas, housing and textbooks - have increased at an even greater rate than tuition.
According to U.S. PIRG, "
Textbook prices have increased at four times the rate of inflation since 1994 and continue to rise."

To add yet another layer to this mess, the California Faculty Association is currently voting to decide if they are going to strike. The CSU faculty needs a substantial pay raise. As the CFA points out, CSU administrators and university presidents all just got big raises. The teachers deserve the same. The problem is, there is no money to pay for it. As a result, we are losing our best teachers. These teachers are probably the most important factor in creating a quality education.

I could go on, but I think it is enough to say that having a high-quality, affordable and accessible education is vital to the economic success of California and the United States as a whole. As a student, I can assure you that we want to learn. We want to take advantage of the resources that are out there. But too many people are unable to afford to. The State of California is failing its citizens in providing education. Major change is needed right away.

2 comments:

A.Venegas said...

AWESOME POST!

I keep asking, where's the AS in all of this?

Kyle Hansen said...

Good question...The Spartan Daily reported that: "The A.S. board of directors passed a "Resolution in Opposition" in response to the proposed fee increase during a meeting held on February 14." That is about it as far as I know.