Tough days for college students

The Legislative Analyst Office said that tuition has increased 67.4 percent since the 2008-2009 school year for the Universities of California.

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By Verenice Espinoza / Special to Viewpoints

By Verenice Espinoza / Special to Viewpoints

The Legislative Analyst Office said that tuition has increased 67.4 percent since the 2008-2009 school year for the Universities of California.

“Tuition charges for 2012-13 are currently $46 per unit.  For 2011-12, they were $36 a unit.  Prior to that tuition charges were $26 per unit for 2009-10 and 2010-11 for California Community Colleges,” said Elizabeth Hilton, the Financial Aid director at Riverside City College.

Funds for higher education are almost three times less than K-12’s funds. In California, the budget for education K-12 is $68.4 billion, while the budget for higher education is $23.1 billion.

Although enrollment tuition has been on the raise, students have been able to use resources such as loans and grants available to them through Financial Aid.

Some grants available to students are ones such as the Cal Grant, which is a grant, issued by the State of California and is administered by the California Student Aid Commission.

Hilton said students can apply for the Cal Grant by completing the FAFSA application and submitting their GPA. More information on qualifying and applying for the grant is available at http://www.rcc.edu and searching Financial Aid on the website or by visiting http://www.calgrants.org.

Private loans are also available to students, which are obtained through private lenders such as banks.

The more tuition increases in California, the more loans have to increase as well. The result of this is more student debt, said Monica Martinez, Financial Aid adviser at California Baptist University.

Surbhi Godsay, a researcher for civil learning and engagement in Massachusetts said she encourages students becoming more politically active in their community.

“I think students can make a difference by getting together with other students and coming up with ways to be advocates for a cause,” said Surbhi Godsay, a researcher for civil learning and engagement. “Here in Massachusetts, students get together to be advocates; I believe it can make a change.”

A student from the University of California, Irvine is gathering signatures for a proposal (Californians for a Higher education) that would freeze tuition for current college students. Many people do not think that it will come to pass because it favors only the current college students, while future students would have a higher tuition, depending on when they decide to attend. However, the proposal has had the media talking about a possible good turnout.

Students can make a difference by voting, said Godsay. In 2008, 87 percent of college students who were registered to vote, voted. If more college students or youth made the effort to vote, maybe then they would have a say in the government’s finances. Voting determines how much money is allocated to the schools.

“Being politically active has opened my eyes and made me realize how much of an impact you can make,” said Martinez.

Loans, voting, or even lobbying are not the only options; there are other solutions for a Californian college student to lessen the negative impacts of the state budget cuts.

 “My advice would be to go to a junior college and pay for one’s classes and transfer to a state college while taking out the least amount of loans,” said current graduate student David Acosta from California Baptist University. “If they are going to take out loans make sure the degree pays off in the end like medical school and not some degree that has no value.”

The college-bound society has felt the impact of budget cuts, but there are options out there for financial help, including California’s financial aid, federal loans, and being politically active. College students can make a difference for themselves and others in their community.

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