The College Board Advocacy and Policy Centers Trends in College Pricing reported that California has had the highest increase in tuition costs nationwide for the 2011 to 2012 academic year. The cost increase was around 21% for California followed by Arizona at 17% and Washington at 16%, while South Carolina and Connecticut had a minimal increase of 2.5%. Obviously many students in California are infuriated by the inflation in cost of education, but others argue that it is based on sound reasons and that the change was inevitable.
The recession has played a role in the lives of most Americans during 2011, and student life is no different. California is one of the states that has been hit hardest, leading to declining tax revenue as well as less consumer spending. This makes the average annual tuition cost of $8,244 for degree-awarding colleges and universities difficult to manage for students and financial aid systems alike. California State University seems to remain one of the most affordable options with fees for full-time students at approximately $6,500, while University of California is charging about $13,000 and University of Southern California is at a whopping $42,818. Added to the cost of living the annual average price tag for student life in California is more than $17,000 and continues to rise. Are there significant reasons that can justify this increase in cost making higher education seemingly out of reach for many high school graduates and existing college students?
The first is a flood of unemployed Americans that are returning to student life. More people in need of financial aid means that everyone gets less of a share from the funding available. The second reason is the amount of funds available, since there have been significant cutbacks in state funding. So it seems the supply and demand chain for financial aid is not well balanced with the demand for financial aid well above what can be supplied. Consequently, Occupy movements have been taking place at UC and Cal State campuses, but I think students need to learn the lesson that their demands need to be fair and that they need to contribute first-hand in making education more affordable.
A good place to start would be to lower expenses for running academic institutions. One method of doing this would be to have fewer libraries, cafeterias and luxury amenities on campus (unless enough individual students are willing to pay to manage their cost). Staff salaries will also need to go down, which can lead to less qualified teachers and more students per class. This all leads to a lower quality of education but to make education affordable students have to learn to make the most of what they’ve got. You can’t have your cake and eat it too, so expecting to receive the best education when you can’t pay out of pocket during a recession is absurd unless you are an outstanding student whose academic performance will shine through despite financial challenges.
Finally, students need to understand that when a country goes through economic hardships, education becomes a luxury rather than a right. Although morally speaking I feel that education should be the right of every human being on this planet, the sad truth is that there is inequality throughout the world and sometimes you are on the side that is getting less than others. Students in California need to think as individuals and make independent cuts in cost. They could opt to share rooms, buy used books and use public transportation. If the tuition cost itself is what bothers them then they need to explore other options like moving to a different state or country. Attending a community college and then having credits transferred over is another practical option. The change towards making student life more affordable has to start with the students, not college or government officials.
California’s College Tuition Increase posted by Nadeem Alim at USCollegeRanking.org