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Gradually graduating

Tuition hikes could influence the time it takes students to complete their units to graduate.

Courtesy of Marvin Ray T. Hidalgo

Courtesy of Marvin Ray T. Hidalgo

James Chow, Staff Writer

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President Donald Trump and Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos’ vision of United States education aims to give Americans a choice in schools and the opportunity to defend themselves from the wrath of grizzly bears. With Trump’s proposed budget, dubbed “America First,” the Education Department’s funding would be slashed by 13.5 percent, or $9.2 billion. Such a budget would remove $2.4 billion in grants for teacher training and $1.2 billion from after-school extracurricular programs, as reported by The Atlantic.

This doesn’t give California governor Jerry Brown a lot of leg room in allocating funds toward the California State University system.

In these dire circumstances, the statewide school system needs a source of funding to provide the minimum resources to students.

A statement released by the CSU said that state funding has dropped from 80 percent in the 1990s to 50 percent in 2016-17. Therefore, a tuition increase seems like the inevitable resolution.

A hike in tuition is obviously a big deal. Students who don’t qualify for fee waivers and grants are forced to pay a higher due than they originally anticipated arriving to the campus.

Considering the tuition increase,the university’s Graduation Initiative 2025 provides even more of a financial burden for low-income students who are trying to graduate quickly.

The purpose of the plan is well-intended — help students graduate in a shorter time frame to allow space for incoming students. Allocations of the initiative would go toward recruiting more faculty and offering more classes.

According to CSU spokesman Michael Uhlenkamp, $77.5 million of the tuition increase would go toward the initiative.

The timing however collides with the rise in university enrollment costs.

Graduation Initiative 2025’s aim is contradictory with its cost of the initiative. Yes, it’s good for the university to want to push out students to make space. But instituting an increase in tuition would counter that action, because unit price influences enrollment. Students who can not afford to keep up with the amount of units needed to take to graduate early would be forced to stay in school longer than expected.

Not only does that give weight to the anti-tuition increase mantra students rallied — “the more we pay, the longer we stay,” — at the Board of Trustees meeting, but this also would decrease the quality of education for students as they would be forced to further divide their attention between education and work.

CSU Assistant Vice Chancellor for Budget Ryan Storm said that even though financial aid programs are available to them, some students would still be burdened to work to pay off the higher tuition rates, as reported by the Press Telegram.

Furthermore, when these students graduate and are integrated into the workplace, they must find a stable job in an economy that encourages competition. Couple that with the burden of paying off school loans and their degree of success is delayed.

One of the points of the graduation initiative encourages hiring more faculty.

Last year, Cal State Faculty have received salary increases of up to 10.5 percent over a three-year period. I’m not saying that professors should be docked pay, but the graduation initiative should not go toward hiring more faculty if the cost is going to fall on the backs of students.

On the other hand, employing more faculty is necessary for students to receive a quality education. The U.S. World News & Report’s statistics show that the student-teacher ratio at Cal State Long Beach is 24:1. If the initiative is put into place, there can be increased accessibility and more one-to-one between professors and students.

A student cross-legged and hunch-backed eager to hear personal wisdom from the wise old sage would be the paramount image of student-professor relations. Maybe that specific image wouldn’t work in today’s context, but the point is that students would actually have a relationship with the teacher rather than be a blur in a room of 100.

But that vision is horizons away for the number of students who still can’t afford it. And that number is high. In an analysis done by the Institute for Higher Education Policy, students with families who earned over $100,000 could only afford 59 percent of schools. Those with families earning under $100,000 could not afford 90 percent of schools.

Students should not have to decide between going to work and going to office hours while they are enrolled in university.

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