Pursuing a higher education is perceived to be a choice, but in reality it is a necessity in a society where so much weight is placed on having a degree. Student debt is a crippling reality in the United States. In 2013, many students graduated with an estimated $29,000 in debt. Tuition and fees at public universities across the nation steadily increase while financial aid decreases.
VCU is no stranger to this trend.
The 2015-2016 academic school year left many students unpleasantly surprised when they realized that their financial aid packages had suffered major cuts and a $910 increase in tuition and fees was tacked on to their student bill. The upcoming 2016-2017 school year also looks grim with another $358 increase in tuition. It sets tuition at $13,130, the highest in VCU history.
Why is it that higher education is still perceived to be a commodity when our society makes it almost impossible to survive without a bachelors degree? If a degree is becoming less of a choice and more a necessity, then it should be regulated so everyone has equal access to it — without the burden of tens of thousands of dollars of debt.
Universities argue that in order to make up for state budget cuts on education, pay professors and maintain the institution’s facilities, they have to raise the cost of attendance. If not, cuts will be made to services offered to the students, which may hinder the student experience.
However, if the university was actually using the increase in tuition in fees to improve the student experience on campus, then students wouldn’t have a problem with the increases.
Yet even with an $910 increase in tuition for the 2015-2016 school year, student organizations still suffered major funding cuts. This increase caused clubs and organizations on campus to cut popular events or find funding elsewhere — ultimately hindering the student experience.
If higher education is becoming less of a choice and more of a necessity in America then tuition should be put towards improving programs and professors — things that directly affect the students on a day-to-day basis.