Outlook for Student Fees Grim Under Slim State Budget

    When the going gets tough for the state of California, UC students wish they could get
    going.

    Historically, amid deficit, the state government places
    additional costs of higher education on students’ backs, and after a decade of
    steep increases, the trend will likely continue as students are expected to
    face yet another hit in 2008-09. According to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s state
    budget proposal, students would see a 7.4-percent increase in mandatory fees,
    intensifying the longstanding problem of college affordability and leaving room
    for the UC Board of Regents to tack on extra dollars, which does nothing to
    calm student fears.

    The increase translates to a system wide fee of $490 for
    resident undergraduates and $546 for resident graduate students, amounting to
    $7,126 in annual tuition for in-state undergraduates. As if that’s not
    troublesome enough for the countless struggling college students and their
    families, the proposal also permits the regents to increase fees beyond the
    recommended levels to compensate for the extent of UC budget cuts. Considering
    that UC’s state funding would fall $400 million below the amount requested by
    the regents under the proposal, it’s pretty easy to predict what they will do.

    Granted, the state and UC system must endure severe cuts
    across the board to address the state’s estimated $14.5-billion debt and the
    recommended 7-percent increase is consistent with the previous year; however,
    the state too often expects costs to be backfilled by student fee increases,
    forcing students to help bail the state out of a debt they did not create.

    While students and their families are becoming desensitized
    to the rising numbers on their college tuition statements, the cost of a UC
    education has more than doubled in less than a decade. While California claims to be investing in its
    future by producing an educated workforce and dynamic economy, public education
    is becoming a privilege for the wealthy rather than an equalizer to close the
    gap between rich and poor. While more people may be attending college, students
    are faced with increased amounts of debt, making the goal of a “dynamic
    economy” an unrealistic ideal until the state government stops punishing
    students for its poor planning and starts prioritizing access to public
    education.

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