Why everyone should care about the cost of tuition

Tuition might not be a burden for some of us, but it does not mean we should not care.

“I don’t need to worry about tuition because it doesn’t affect me.”

“I have a scholarship, so tuition isn’t a big deal.”

The words are carefree, but genuinely troubling. While I respect everyone’s personal beliefs, you can’t simply sit on the sideline on this issue. You can’t disregard tuition because you think it does not directly affect you. It affects all of us. You can’t ignore it. Our future is at stake — we are all connected, and we are all in this together.

While you may not worry about the cost of college, there are other ASU students who do. Your friends may be battling tough economic times, and some of them may not return to school because of the rise in tuition. Tuition is rising due to the $99 million in state budget cuts last year, and the overall $463 million in cuts since the recession. Each cut to universities is a blow to students balancing on the tuition tightrope. With each increase in tuition, it becomes more difficult for students to reach the other side of the tightrope of college education.

Since the recession, tuition in Arizona has increased well over 80 percent, and it will continue increasing unless students step up to make the tuition tightrope easier to cross. If state investment in universities continues to drop, friends who are not as fortunate will fall off of the tightrope and will not graduate. This will not be a result of their work ethic or their intelligence; instead, it will be because they couldn’t afford it.

In the lucky circumstances that students are able to cross the tightrope to the other side, the burden of debt is heavy. It negatively influences their ability to start a business, to buy a car and to buy a home. These are lifelong consequences that students will have to face.

For those of you who don't struggle to pay for college, consider the loss to our community when other students do drop out. Consider a business student who wants to start a business that will bring more jobs to the Arizona economy. Due to student debt or the inability to make it through college, that business could be delayed years, or never started at all, meaning that it may be harder for you to find a job.

The point I am stressing with these arguments is that we are interconnected. If one of us fails, all of us feel it in one way or another. If one of us succeeds, all of us stand to gain from it — we are all in this together. This is why I pray for our governor’s success despite our political differences, because if he succeeds, we all benefit from it. So, too, I ask you to not only pray for our fellow students, if it’s your tradition, but to take action. Fight for affordable tuition — silence is still a vote, and it may not be what you want to vote for.

No matter what circumstances we come from, we need to care. Our collective future is at stake. Let’s get everyone across the tightrope, and let’s give everyone who works hard a chance.

Related Links:

Arizona DREAMers, supporters celebrate in-state tuition ruling

Ducey boosts funding for state universities in budget proposal

Reach the columnist at jarwood@asu.edu or follow @jimsthebeast on Twitter.

Editor’s note: The opinions presented in this column are the author’s and do not imply any endorsement from The State Press or its editors.

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