Over the last several years, the cost of a college education in Minnesota has gone up several percent, but the range of services and opportunities one may have access to has not gone up (and in many cases gone down). This is probably true across the country. Right now, in California, there is debate over a 32 percent student fee increase. Which reminds me: There was a time when you could estimate the cost of college by knowing “tuition” and then cost of living while in college, and throwing in a couple of hundred bucks a year for other stuff like books. Then the book prices went through the roof so that a full time college student in the humanities may pay 500 to 1000 a year on books and related items, and a person in some other fields two to four times that, unless a lot of scrounging is done. And, student fees are tuition, just not linked directly to credits.
Students feel disproportionately targeted by the UC’s hikes and cuts, shouldering a large share of the budget shortfall as fees rise and services disappear. Moreover, there is no indication whether these adjustments will suffice or if further painful steps will be necessary. The UC student of tomorrow will pay more to receive less.
The proposed fee hike is a bit different from some other price increases because it comes mid year, which has implications for individual choices students may have otherwise made, as pointed out in an editorial in the student-run City on a Hill Press:
This new fee hike proposal leaves us especially helpless. We’re already in school, close to having a third of this year done, and many of us are well into our long-term academic tracks. Proposing increases for next year is one thing, as it allows us to finish out our year and plan accordingly. But applying these fees mid-year feels like a trap: pay the increase or leave. And unless we want to stunt our well-earned momentum from this quarter, paying more seems to be our only real option.
That’s a little like hiking up the cost of your groceries while they are still in the cart. Which, by the way, happened to me once, but that’s another story.
I think we need to find a way to pay for higher education that is different than the one we use now.