By | The Lumberjack Editorial Board
At the end of January, the University of California Board of Regents approved a 2.5 percent tuition fee increase to take place in the 2017-2018 academic year. Though the University of California system said that financial aid will cover two-thirds of California undergraduates, protests against the tuition fee increase persist.
Too many rights of college students have been under attack. There are worries about undocumented students’ access to education, the continuance of the anti-discrimination regulation safeguarding our LGBTQ community and the general welfare of our public school system under the direction of Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos.
The increase may seem inconsequential to some, but many students struggle with affording both higher education and the daily cost of living. Decreasing the Pell Grant to cushion the cost of inflation means reducing supplemental income that helps students pay for vital services from transportation to housing.
California State Assemblywoman Sharon Quirk-Silva and the California Faculty Association fought against the tuition hike with AB 393, the Student Protection Act. The Act states that the increase in college tuition has surpassed the cost of living while student debt continues to rise.
AB 393 cites a Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s statistic that said, “one in four student loan borrowers are either in delinquency or default on their loans.”
The Institute for College Access and Success reports that from 2010-2014, the average student debt rose by 56 percent. 74 percent HSU of graduates had debt in 2014.
The rising student debt numbers indicate that students are struggling to maintain a balance between the high cost of college and necessary expenses like housing, food and healthcare. The resulting cycle of loan defaulting continues to cause an unnecessary drain on the lives of students.
AB 393 suspends the tuition hike and limits the increase of system-wide fees to an amount that was agreed upon on Dec. 2016. This suspension will be in place until the 2019-20 academic year.
The public education system is facing a myriad of problems; now isn’t the time to force a tuition increase. AB 393 also takes into account factors beyond the primary fiscal burdens of the cost of higher education. The Act will help students breathe easier during these contentious times and alleviates at least one worry.