Higher ed’s burden

Tuition increases at California’s public universities are making degrees unattainable

Recent news of the University of California system seeking tuition increases of 5 percent per year over the next several years is sad, but hardly surprising.

Continued and chronic underfunding of our state’s public universities has decimated our once excellent system of higher education. Although some funding is slowly being restored, the ability to pay for college at California’s public universities is rapidly escaping the grasp of all but the state’s wealthiest.

More than half of California’s college graduates leave school with an average of over $20,000 in debt, which makes these suggested tuition increases excessively burdensome. Where once Californians could expect a high-quality and inexpensive education, we now have at least two generations of college graduates who are weighed down by educational debt.

To increase this burden is to continue the foolhardy practice of mortgaging the future.

The bottom line is that failure to increase our contributions to the education of youth will result in the sort of long-term economic crisis from which we will find it difficult to recover. If students can’t afford school, they won’t contribute enough to the economy to support a retired older generation. That also means they won’t be able to save enough for their own retirements, and the crisis therefore becomes cyclical.

It is way past time to stop kicking that can down the road. Those of us who are educated and working must be willing to shoulder the responsibility for supporting the generation ahead of us and for educating the generation behind us. That’s the only way we can have a sustainable economy and a humane society.