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What Need to Know about Tuition Increases

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Earning your bachelor's degree is certainly a hefty financial investment. Throw in the nation's worst recession since World War II, an unemployment rate of around 10 percent, and a 32 percent increase in tuition at The University of California, Berkeley--and you'll have yourself quite a few student demonstrations. Read on to find out more about how and why this tuition increasing is affecting students throughout the nation.

University of California Tuition Increase: the 411

So why are campuses around the nation--particularly in California--increasing the cost of tuition? The main culprit is the lack of state support for public universities. According to Time Magazine's article detailing the recent spike in costs, "...in 2006, state taxpayers spent $7,078 per student at public research universities. That's nearly $1,300 less than in 2002. Any spending increase has been largely for administration, maintenance, and student services, not instruction. At many public universities, the deep recession has made the situation worse."

When UC Berkeley, a public university, initially announced its plan to increase tuition back in March, they did so on the same day that they announced major lay-offs for an "undetermined amount of employees." This was combined with a hiring freeze, making the outlook for those wanting to join Berkeley's faculty not particularly bright. So what does this tuition increase add up to? About $662 extra that students will be required to pay. UC Spokesperson Steve Montiel commented, "The state has not been able or willing to fund full enrollment. You have to increase revenue or else the quality is going to suffer."

Students' Reaction to Tuition Increases

Students are, understandably so, not taking this official 10 percent tuition increase lightly. For many, paying their way through college is the only financial option they have; with this increase, it simply may not be possible for a number of students to continue to fund their educations. The UC Board of Regents reports that this particular tuition increase will not apply to families with an income below $70,000. On the bright side, 33 percent of the additional money UCs collect will be put towards financial aid; however, this 10 percent increase unfortunately puts many lower-income students in a position where a public education simply may not be possible financially.

So what are students doing to voice these concerns? They're demonstrating. Students have organized campus sit-ins and rallies that have resulted in approximately 100 students being arrested. This specific tuition increase is apparently the largest in UC history, and is set to provide the state with an extra $500 million. Students at UC Davis, UC Berkeley, and UC Santa Cruz are being particularly vocal about the tuition increase, with nothing left to do but come together to find a solution. Many students say that even if they wanted to get a second job or try to get more hours at their restaurant gig, they can't due to the recession. One student mentioned that "with the way the restaurant business is now, it's been hard to pay the bills."

Which Schools Are Next?

As a result of the states current budget crisis, California public schools seem to be getting hit the hardest by this 32 percent tuition increase; however, other universities around the country are also feeling the heat. Temple University in Pennsylvania is facing a 2.9 percent tuition increase, while the University of Pittsburgh and Penn State announced a tuition increase of 3.7 to 4.5 percent. More specifically, the states that have seen the double-digit tuition increases are California, Florida, New York, and Washington.

How Online Education Combats Rising UC Tuition Costs

Online education costs depend on the particular school and the particular program one is interested in, as each requires the student to have certain materials (like a computer and Internet connection) readily-accessible. Typically, online classes that do not require extra equipment are cheaper. Furthermore, schools that are trying out new classes will offer these classes at a lower rate to start. Without the transportation, meal, and dormitory costs, many students find online degree programs that save them a bundle on a typical campus-based college education program. Instead of coming out of their online degree program broke, they come out of their online degree program with some money in the bank and a certified degree to mount on their wall.