Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Have you been to school lately?

At the University of Texas at Arlington, tuition and fees jumped 25 percent since 2003.

That hike came down hard on freshman Robin Redmond and her family from Terrell.

"It's put a strain on my parents mainly, and I had to take out about $3,000 in loans in my name," she said.

Increases at some public universities approached 40 percent since the legislature let them set their own tuition. The average in state tuition in Texas is $5,940 dollars, which is above the national average.

I just happen to go to UTA. I started back in the 90's and am back in school now working on finishing my degree. The first semester I went, tuition (not including books) cost about $1200 for a full-time load. This last semester, I went to school for only 3 hours. That's just one class. It cost $1000. Ok, let's do the math: 12 hours at $1200 is $100 an hour. 3 hours at $1000 is about $330 an hour. That means in a decade, the cost of tuition has tripled. To be sure, average American wages have not tripled in the same time, meaning that tuition costs here in Texas and elsewhere around the nation have gotten out of hand.

Here in Texas, at least, that's mostly because Perry signed tuition deregulation into law, claiming that Texas schools need to make more money to stay competitive. Of course, he seems to forget that people can't buy what they can't afford. I doubt he has problems balancing his accounts every month, which might explain his reasoning. Whatever he thinks though, that means school is out of reach for some and putting a burden of debt on many (probably most) students.

I just think it's a good national policy to put a higher priority on education instead of making everyone fend for themselves. More college graduates means more money in the economy. It means higher wages, more goods being bought, and rich folk get richer off higher-earning employees. That's just the way it is. Besides that, does America want to end up relying on India and China for technological innovation? Is that a good national policy? However conservatives may feel about "government handouts" and "liberal social programs", surely, surely they can admit that it is vitally important that America keep producing college graduates. After all, we can't all work at McDonald's.


Xanthippas said...

As was pointed out on another blog, the standard Republican response to income inequality is "more education" and yet they refuse to support policies that would encourage just that.

Nat-Wu said...

That's because the real end to income inequality would be when we restructure our whole system to favor the poor instead of the rich. So while it's true that education is the key to breaking out of the cycle of poverty, it's also true that they don't want anyone taking away their money to fund education.