Thursday, November 19, 2009

THE CALIFORNIA MODEL …as seen by the students of Arizona State University

By: Editorial Board of The State Press - An independent daily serving Arizona State University

Thursday, November 19, 2009 – The cost of education is something students care deeply about.

Fee hikes have rallied the masses at ASU in the past, and recently, they have caused a huge uproar in our neighbor school to the west, the University of California.

Eight students were arrested Tuesday after singing several rounds of “We Shall Overcome” to protest proposed heightened fees, according to The San Diego Union-Tribune.

The UC Board of Regents discussed a 32 percent increase in fees for UC students. A 32 percent increase would up undergraduate tuition by nearly $3,000 annually, costing students more than $10,000.

ASU students know all too well what these types of fees can do to our pocketbooks and our drive to pursue higher education.

California’s proposed hike makes our Board of Regents look like nice fluffy kittens with their surcharge.

And though we’d like to thank California for once again improving Arizona’s outlook by comparison, we shouldn’t be too quick to sympathize and move on.

For the first time in the state’s history, Arizona is being forced to take out a loan. The state has already borrowed more than $500 million against internal accounts, but the stack of IOUs is becoming too much to handle without the help of institutional lenders.

While in straits this dire, we would not be surprised if Arizona students were soon in the same position that our compatriots and friendly rivals in California are experiencing.

A proposal like UC’s not only makes a mockery of college affordability, it does little to encourage an influx of educated people — something that the ailing state could use a lot of right now.

But before we start desperately looking for songs to protest a one-third tuition increase, we might start looking at the benefits California’s problem could bring to us.

We hate to be to Darwinian, but Arizona universities might start benefiting from the overwhelming UC costs.

Arizona schools, and ASU in particular, have a lot to offer students looking for a good education in a warm climate. If the price of a California education shoots dramatically upward, ASU may start seeing an influx of out-of-state students who are willing to give up a beach for a bit more cash in their coffers.

And out-of-state tuition dollars mean benefits for all students. When the University succeeds, so do the students. If ASU can attract students who are wary of seeing costs spike, it could mean big strides for the New American University.

Despite the potential benefits a dumb decision from the UC governing board of regents could give Arizona, we are still very much on the side of the students.

Educated people don’t only benefit themselves, they benefit society. Keeping education funding a priority will go a long way to improving the economies of both states.

Both California and Arizona could stand to remember that.

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