A vote against students

College is an expensive hobby.

Most of us would agree on that – including Rep. John Kavanagh, R-Fountain Hills, who sponsored House Bill 2675, which would effectively levy a $2,000 tuition hike. Apparently, college students don’t work hard enough and don’t have any “skin in the game,” according to Kavanagh.

"Not everyone, but some people take things they get for free less seriously,” Kavanagh said .

The bill allows exemptions for athletes and recipients of national merit-based scholarships.

Those of us on regular old scholarships and student loans, however, would be required to contribute the $2,000 out of pocket. These funds would not be covered by any sort of financial aid.

That’s just a drop in the bucket for some people, but for others, $2,000 is a lot of money.

College  generally costs a lot of money. We have to pay tuition, buy textbooks, pay for food, buy new textbooks again, pay rent, pay for transportation and buy more textbooks.

“Welcome to life,” said Rep. Michelle Ugenti, R-Scottsdale, during the House Appropriations Committee hearing Feb. 22.

Isn’t that helpful? Our state legislature is really looking out for us. They just want to uphold the Arizona Constitution, which, by the way, says, “the instruction furnished [at all state educational institutions] shall be as nearly free as possible.”

We don’t want a free ride through college just because we feel like it, or because we think we’re entitled to it.

This is exactly why many of us worked hard in high school – harder, quite frankly, than we had to. We wanted top-notch grades, so we could receive good scholarships for college with the hopes of getting a good job after graduation, so that financial stability, a hallmark of adulthood, might be in reach.

Some of our state legislators seem to disagree.

"I really believe that when something is given to you, you don't have the appreciation of having put in some work," said Rep. John Fillmore, R-Apache Junction.

Statements such as these brilliantly illustrate just how remarkably out of touch our state House is with the people of Arizona.

Students don’t rely on federal student loan money just for kicks. We don’t do it because it’s easy. We don’t think we’re getting free money – we know we’ll have to pay it back in the end, whether the loans are subsidized (no interest accrues on the borrowed principal) or not.

Reps. Fillmore and Kavanagh and the other supporters of this bill ought to be ashamed of themselves. Two thousand dollars is a lot of money. That's why those of us who are not as affluent as others rely on financial aid - which we will have to work off. We rely on our scholarships - which we worked to receive and now work to maintain.

HB 2675 would do nothing but increase the already looming amount of student debt many of us carry. It wouldn’t create jobs or strengthen the economy.

A vote for this bill is a vote against students. A vote for this bill shows how insulated our state representatives are from the everyday concerns of Arizonans.

To the aforementioned legislators: Please keep in mind, we are the future.

And we vote.

You vote against us, you can bet we'll return the favor.


Reach the columnist at skthoma4@asu.edu

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