The University of California public school system was once revered as an accessible, affordable option for California college-bound students. However, with a new plan to increase tuition by up to 16 percent a year, such a reputation has become tarnished and outdated.
Growing up in California, I had always considered UCs to be institutions of high quality education with a cheaper price tag than private universities. My parents agreed, encouraging me to apply to UCs with the hope that I could graduate from a reputable university with little or no debt. Unfortunately, this idea has become a fallacy.
According to the San Francisco Chronicle’s analysis of University of California data, tuition could be as high as $22,100 by the 2015-2016 school year. This would increase the total cost of a UC education, including tuition, fees, books, room and board, to $40,260 per year.
Even with government financial aid, many families cannot afford such a ridiculous cost for a public university. Certainly few families in the middle class can, where many students are considered too wealthy to receive aid but too poor to pay the full cost of the education.
Such an outrageous cost makes me question the feasibility of attending a UC over a private school. While most private schools cost an average of $50,000 per year, they have an endowment from which they often give generous amounts of merit-based aid to qualified applicants. The same cannot be said for the public UCs.
Additionally, assuming that a student will be able to afford the potentially absurd price of the UC education, in no way will he or she be guaranteed to get into all of the necessary classes. There are simply too many students. In effect, many students will be unable to graduate from their respective UCs within four years and will be forced to pay for additional semesters in order to complete requirements.
At many private schools, on the other hand, this is not an issue because the student-to-faculty ratio is relatively low. This also allows for more one-on-one attention for each student and fewer classes being taught by teaching assistants.
Although UC officials argue that these tuition increases are an effort to prevent mediocrity from plaguing the system, they will do just the opposite. How can a public school system avoid mediocrity when all of its best applicants are being accepted by more affordable private schools? Let’s face it. No student would choose to pay more for a school in which they would be receiving a poorer education.
It is obvious that, within California, there is a financial crisis at hand. It is just a shame that this must be compensated for by cutting back funding from the public universities that so many look to for a reasonably priced education.