In this age of exploding student debt, higher default rates and tuition inflation, the last thing college students need is another significant tuition hike. It turns out, though, that public college students in California might get just that. The San Francisco Chronicle reports that the University of California system is mulling tuition increases of anywhere from 8-16% annually. They are set to release the plan today, in a meeting with the UC regents.
Right now, tuition stands at just over $12,000 per academic year, more than $4,000 more than just three years ago. An 8% yearly increase would take it to $16,600 by 2015; 16% increases would bring it up to just above $22,000, very close to double current costs. Tack onto that the costs of housing, transportation, food and books and California students will be paying a pretty penny.
The UCs have had to take drastic steps because of California’s now notorious budget problems, which were only exacerbated by the financial crisis. Of course, public education was one of the first things cut. As a result, the system faces a budget shortfall that requires increased revenue from tuition. In fact, this year represents the first in UC history where a majority of its budget comes from tuition as opposed to state support. Even in the absence of these huge hikes, students have been seeing the amount of debt they owe grow substantially for the past decade; these substantial hikes would only exacerbate huge problems that college kids are already having.
It is especially sad to see the University of California schools privatize. They are not only some of the most prestigious universities in the country, but they were also once affordable. Doubling tuition, though, puts the costs beyond what many potential students can pay. It becomes symbolic of a broader problem — with increasing tuition and increasing poverty rates, how are students supposed to get a high quality education?
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