Raising the barrier to entry

Ingrid Chan, Asst. Photo Editor

This year’s proposed tuition hike for the University of California system has become a big enough deal that the UC regents pushed back the controversial vote until May.

The UCs are some of California’s best-run and top-ranked public institutions for a reason: Money. The state has increased UC funding by $1.2 billion since 2012. However, the overall funds per student from state contributions, tuition and fees have declined by around 31.2 percent since 2000, according to the Los Angeles Times. Due to financial aid, pension payments and the record addition of 90,000 more students, it’s not surprising that UCs have seen the cost for sustaining this number of students grow.

Since this is a discussion about tuition hikes for in-state students, we cannot ignore the fact that they are already getting access to prestigious UC schools for a fraction of the out-of-state price. Out-of-state students are receiving an even higher tuition hike at $978 on top of their already expensive base tuition fee, so in-state students have no room to complain. Students who really don’t want to pay the additional $342 should make use of scholarship opportunities or consider work-study in college.

Lower income families who are truly in a financial pickle will likely receive enough financial aid to alleviate their worries. According to the Los Angeles Times, financial aid covers the tuition of 60 percent of UC students.

Families who are actually threatened by this tuition increase are the middle class who don’t qualify for financial aid. Even though colleges do need more funds to sustain their quality of education, the middle class is really taking the brunt of the damage as colleges attempt to rob from the rich to help the poor.

What’s even more significant is that the quality of education in the UCs has been declining due to the shortage in funds. They’ve generously accepted a larger amount of applicants and have crowded more students into classes, yet are unable to hire new staff and teachers due to the financial shortage.

Not only is this hindering the education of current UC students, but it is also taking a toll on prospective students. Pushing back the vote has caused the UCs to be unable to hire new faculty, set up courses needed for students registering in March and notify families of the cost of school next year for enrollment decisions.

Because there was an increase in tuition fees last year as well, it would be wiser not to make this an annual thing, or else public outrage would be incited even further. While the price hikes are justified, the middle class financial situation should be given more serious consideration when they are being reviewed for financial aid.