Make college affordable
Naila Dhanani: Keep federal funds, stop raising tuition
Published: Wednesday, February 1, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, July 25, 2012 19:07
Higher education is the most effective tool to ensure financial stability for today's youth. But with costs spiraling out of control, its value is quickly diminishing.
A degree from Texas A&M may not be worthwhile if students can't find a job post-graduation in a shaky economy and have tens of thousands of dollars in student debt to pay off.
Instead of the promise of a hopeful future, our diplomas will quickly become a reminder of our desperate fight to stay afloat in the face of staggering student loan debt.
President Barack Obama has a plan, which he outlined during his recent State of the Union address.
"When kids do graduate, the most daunting challenge can be the cost of college … Americans owe more in tuition debt than credit card debt," Obama said. This is unacceptable. This year, student-loan debt is expected to reach $1 trillion. Higher education should be an asset, not a hindrance when entering the real world, yet student loan debt prevents this from happening.
Obama unveiled a solution Friday at the University of Michigan – Ann Arbor when he said colleges and universities "can't assume you'll just jack up tuition every single year. If you can't stop tuition from going up, then the funding you get from taxpayers each year will go down."
It's a great idea. At a time when funding is scarce across the board, why continue to fund institutions that may no longer provide a high value for students? Although federal funds provide money to students and not universities, it continues to sustain a process of overwhelming student debt.
The federal government provides billions of dollars each year to students in the form of federal grants, work-study programs and federal loans. If this disappears, receiving a degree from A&M may turn out to be unattainable for most.
And we shouldn't hold our breath for state funding to come through. Although Obama said, "States also need to do their part, by making higher education a priority in their budgets," our state hasn't gotten the memo.
The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board is expected to soon disclose the amount of funding the state will provide per student for the next two years. It's expected to decrease from previous years.
With diminishing state funds and the threat of federal funds disappearing, those who set tuition rates at our school, specifically the Board of Regents should take notice and immediately change its policy of increasing tuition rates year after year.
The current trend of raising tuition is not sustainable. Sooner or later, students will not be able to afford the cost and that leaves our university and our nation in a dangerous place. I encourage our administration to take Obama's threat seriously and instead of increasing our tuition, increase its efficiency and keep costs down.
Naila Dhanani is a junior biomedical sciences major and opinion editor for The Battalion.