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Memories of Powell
What Price Glory?

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What Price Glory?
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The University of California's (UC) nine campuses now charge "educational fees" and "registration fees." The California State University system (CSU), with 22 campuses, charges a "university fee" and an "instructional-related activities fee." The state's 106 community colleges charge students an "academic unit fee." Call these costs what you will, the fact is the price of higher education in the Golden State is a lot higher than it used to be.

My generation, in fact, was perhaps the last to benefit from anything resembling California's post-World War II promise. Students in the University of California system today pay $4,166 a year in fees; these may go up as much as $370 a year by Fall 1997. The cost of room and board at UCLA is, on average, an additional $6,400 a year -- and Berkeley is even pricier. Today's students work longer hours while in school, borrow more to meet rising costs (an average of $4,300 a year) and are forced by economic constraints to take longer to complete their undergraduate educations.

The cost of going to the University of California today manifests itself not only as a financial burden on students and their families, but also profoundly on society-at-large. The career choices made by students, particularly those who go to UC's professional schools and are faced with $10,000 a year in fees, are undoubtedly skewed by what they spend on their educations. This contradicts one of the public university's central purposes: to produce graduates who will take lower-paying public service jobs after they graduate to give something back to the community. UC graduates -- California's best and brightest, who despite rising fees are still trained largely at public expense, now increasingly find it financially impossible to serve those most in need.

The steadily escalating fees at the University of California mirror a wider national trend. Over the past 15 years, while household income rose 82 percent, college tuition climbed 234 percent nationally, according to the U.S. General Accounting Office. During the same period state support across the nation fell by an average of 14 percentage points; universities have become increasingly dependent on tuition to balance the budget.

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