Devastating Cuts to Public Higher Education
Education is increasingly become a central domain over which class conflict is being fought in the 21st century. Will corporate “Education Reform” succeed in privatizing our nation’s high schools, turning them into union-free charter-schools? Will there be any affordable public colleges in ten years? Will the burden of education be borne by society? Or by individuals who must go massively into debt to finance their own education? Is high-quality education a social good that benefits the whole community? Or is it a commodity, a form of individual social capital that each person should finance themselves through debt?
In this light we see the devastating cuts to public higher education:
Total state support for higher education declined 7.6 percent from the 2011 to the 2012 fiscal years, according to an annual report from the Grapevine Project, at Illinois State University, and the State Higher Education Executive Officers. As a whole, state spending on higher education—after being supported by the recovery-act money for three budget years—is now nearly 4 percent lower than it was in the 2007 fiscal year. Twenty-nine states appropriated less for colleges this year than they did five years ago.
As public colleges that were formerly free or cheap increasingly rely on donations and tuition to fix their budgets the line between public and private college further erodes. Increasingly the only difference between, say UCLA, the public school, and USC, the private school, is that UCLA gets a nominal portion of their budget from the state. At both schools, of course, students can only even come close to affording tuition through back-door Federal subsidies, via Pell Grants and various student loan deals. The average student starts life burdened with $25,000 in student loan debt (and going up every year). Its very plausible for a student to attend a public university (like say $22,000 a year UConn) and have almost $100,000 of debt when they are 21.
All of which brings out the generational warrior in me. If I hear another old white Fox News watching person talking about how he had no problem making it, back when tuition was negligible and good jobs were aplently, I’m going to fucking lose it.