Student Voices {Support Public Higher Education}

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Jason's Voice


How have increased tuition fees impacted you and your family?:
Between the 2011 Spring and Fall semesters, graduate tuition was increased on two separate occasions, resulting in students paying over 20 percent more for a semester of their education. For undergraduate students who first came to San Francisco State four years ago, they have seen their tuition double. I am unaware of any other economic area in California that has undergone this dramatic rise in inflation for roughly the same amount of goods and services. Meanwhile, salaries and pay for jobs, which many students maintain while enrolled in college, have not kept pace with the rise in cost for education. During this period of unprecedented tuition hikes, the quality of education at California public colleges have been undermined by the many cuts in faculty, maintenance, construction, etc. For students who are currently matriculating through this system, we are faced with a grim situation in which we continue to pay more for less. I do not want to couch this letter in an argument for more taxes or more cuts. I am honestly not an expert on governmental fiscal policy. As a citizen, I find myself willing to discuss both options rather than one over the other. As a human being, I tend to be suspicious of anyone willing to pledge that they will never do something on any condition, whether it is raising taxes or undertaking pension reform. What I am more interested in discussing are the cruel ironies that are currently being experienced as a result of the increases in tuition paired with cuts in services. No one likes to use the word tax but that, in effect, is what a tuition increase is for students and their families. We are asking some of our youngest and least established citizens to pay a lot more money in order to attain a college education that is increasingly required in a wide variety of job positions. At the same time we are reducing funding for our schools, making it more difficult for students graduate on time, due to overcrowded classrooms and lack of sufficient courses. This grim paradox increases the time (and thereby the tuition) a student must sacrifice to earn a degree. What I have seen, both as a TA in an undergraduate class and a casual observer around campus, is that students are stressed, upset, and cynical about their education. Ideally, time in college is devoted to acquiring knowledge, developing critical thinking skills, figuring out what career might suit you, and becoming a part of an engaged and socially responsible community. I am worried that the current population of undergraduate students matriculating through our public colleges will not have the opportunity to appreciate or even experience what it is like to think through problems, both big and small, with a committed and supportive group of peers and professors. In many cases students are too distracted by their finances to genuinely enter into the academic community or are frankly and understandably feeling cheated by their college. Nowadays, they just want to get out of here. I urge the California government to find a way to stop the destructive cuts and cease the onerous tuition increases at our public colleges. I fear that the continual pairing of more money for less services is creating a culture of cynicism around the entire idea of obtaining a college education in the California public university system. Sincerely, Jason File MA in English: Creative Writing, 2012


What are you studying at SF State and what do you hope to do once you graduate?:
MA in English: Creative Writing. Once I graduate I hope to teach composition and reading skills at the community college level.


Jason F., 29 San Francisco



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