Larry Christiansen, president of Mesa Community College, writes "We will remain accessible to every student in our area who wants a college education at MCC." I want to ask Larry how he hopes to accomplish this when his employer, the Maricopa County Community College District (MCCCD), raises tuition rates every year (note: this year the MCCCD raised tuitions 10.7%).
I know one Tempe resident who is taking 13 "total hours" at MCC in the fall of 2003. The student's bill is $673 and it is itemized as follows: student fees and tuition, plus a registration processing fee, plus a foreign language course fee. This $673 expense does not include the cost of books, nor does it include transportation costs. [This student it taking Elementary Spanish, but I'm not sure why he needs to pay a $5 foreign language course fee. In the real-world, this may be considered a revenue generation technique.]
Our colleges and universities justify increased tuitions by making more money available for students to borrow. For those of us who avoid debt and practice financial discipline, borrowing is not an option. Our academic institutions teach us that using other people's money for an education differs from other forms of borrowing because our degrees and certifications ensure us a good paying job upon graduation, thus allowing us to efficiently pay off our debts upon graduation. The bottom-line, however, is that degrees/certificates do not guarantee employment.
Our schools are teaching students that if you don't have the money for something you want -- no problem -- use other people's money. Many college students are young people and our schools are enabling them to start off their adult lives in financial strangleholds. Our schools are teaching students that there is truth to the motto: I owe, I owe, so off to work I go.
Created: 17 May 2003