Community Voices

Op-Ed: Students feel the financial burden of increased costs for University

As the costs for universities increase, many students see college as a financial burden that forces them to hold several jobs and suffer emotional stress. For many students, particularly those of us who are first generation, the excitement of attending a four-year college for the first time often turns to worry when we become aware of the exorbitant costs of higher education.

Having enthusiastically transitioned from the university student dorms to newly-built suites at Cal State Fullerton (CSUF) for the 2022-2023 school year, I was disappointed to learn that the cost of college housing increased by a whopping $10,000 from the previous year. This unreasonable hike in the price of housing has become a stressor for me, as well as many of my colleagues.

For many students, the thought that California State University (CSU) presidents were given raises worth tens of thousands of dollars at the start of the fall 2022 semester seems outrageously out of touch with the financial pressures they and their families experience. After learning that Cal State Fullerton’s president, Framroze Virjee, received a salary increase of $98,000, making his annual salary $476,223, many students were upset and felt that this salary raise was given at our expense. While school presidents enjoy additional financial perks, too many students are struggling under a financial burden that promises a return on investment in the future but currently forces them to hold several jobs and suffer emotional stress about how much money they have to pay now.

At CSUF, commuter students and resident drivers are forced to pay $300 for parking permits. However, the permit doesn’t guarantee a parking space. As a result, many students struggle to find parking and must arrive at school early to make it to their classes on time. In addition, student residents are obligated to pay for an on-campus meal plan worth anywhere from $1,020 to $2,253 a semester, whether or not they dine at the food court. These added expenses to our existing high-priced college tuition escalate the multiple stressors a college student faces today. Most of us are already on a student loan path for an education we need, but that is increasingly becoming too expensive. The thought of the debt waiting outside our door at graduation is an overwhelming burden.

In the fall of 2022, The University of California (UC) system increased its tuition across all campuses by approximately 4.2%, making it difficult for families struggling financially to decide to send their children to college. Knowing about this increase in tuition while the UC system is experiencing a housing shortage is infuriating. With this influx of new funding, the UC campuses could build more housing to keep many of their students from becoming homeless, especially those whose hometowns are far from their college campus.

As a first-generation student from an immigrant family, it is heartbreaking to see how these college systems take advantage of their students, especially those who come from a similar background as mine. My parents work extremely hard, often sacrificing family time, to ensure my siblings and I have everything we need, including a college education.

Many working-class families, like mine, have strong aspirations of sending their children to college but are discouraged as they see the increasing cost of making this happen. I’m sure some colleges wish they could do more for their students and provide them with the best education and amenities they can. Still, the reality is that they are falling short of meeting student needs.

The fault lies within the university systems and the state, which need to monitor how funding is used. As a student, I would like to see specific policies implemented in our favor. For example, they should put students and their needs above all. I believe that college systems only worry about how much money their universities receive rather than how well their students live and learn on their campuses.

The demand for a college education is constantly growing, but that does not mean that tuition has to grow with it. For years, universities have accepted thousands of students and have been able to provide housing and education for them all. I wish they wouldn’t charge us so much for wanting a degree. We are an investment in the future of this state and this country; we don’t need to be short-changed. Our generation is constantly fighting for the rights that will determine our future. Among those are our financial and educational rights. As your future politicians, healthcare workers, businesspeople, and educators, we deserve the best education we can get without the stressor of being unable to afford it.

2 replies »

  1. One alternative that may help alleviate the financial burden of higher education at the Unverisity level is to attend a community college such as Fullerton College for their first two years. At Fullerton College, students can earn all their general education requirements and get a transfer degree, of which the Business Administration, ADT is a very popular option. This can help students save a significant amount of money, as community college tuition is much lower than that of a four-year university. Additionally, Fullerton College offers a variety of financial aid and scholarship options to help students offset the cost of their education.

    Furthermore, attending community college can also provide students with a more supportive and personalized learning environment. With smaller class sizes and dedicated faculty and staff, students can receive individualized attention and support throughout their educational journey. This can help students achieve academic success and prepare for their future careers.

    While attending a four-year university may be the preferred option for some students, it is important to consider all of the available options when making a decision about higher education. Fullerton College offers an affordable and quality educational experience that can help students achieve their academic and career goals without the burden of excessive financial stress.

    Thank you for bringing attention to this important issue, and I hope that more students will consider community college as a viable option for their higher education journey. It is at least worth a conversation with a financial counselor and/or the department Chair or other faculty at Fullerton College.

  2. Posted CSUF undergrad fees for school are about $8000 including books and supplies. Sure, living on campus costs are high but living at home and commuting is an option. That’s what I did when I attended USC and I survived. I worked for my expenses. To say that costs increased by $10,000 seems, well, unfounded.