Students for Sale (to highest bidder)
‘Students for sale!’ yells the loan officer. ‘Got another one for $45,000. Says here she’s going to UC Berkeley.’ The loan coordinator walks in. ‘I just got a new one here at CSU Long Beach for $17,000. He says he’s unsure what he wants to do after graduation.’ Laughter breaks out. ‘So how’s he going to pay it back?’ asks another loan coordinator. ‘These stupid students,’ a loan specialist says. ‘When are they going to figure out student debt doesn’t go away?’
That is a hypothetical situation of what conversations among loan ‘officers’ might sound like. College students are literally for sale now, sold to the highest-bidding loan corporations like cattle at an auction. I don’t have to tell anyone that our government neglects us. Students are the most neglected group of individuals with the right to vote. Who asked us how much debt we want to be in? It’s easy for counselors and administrators and financial aid ‘officers’ to say, ‘well, any debt you incur is worth it in the end.’ They’re not the ones with the debt.
A note about financial aid: It’s not ‘aid’ if you have to pay it back! Who are they kidding? ‘Aid’ is just a misleading term. Just say ‘Debt center,’ since that’s what it is. Why do they disguise themselves as ‘financial aid’ centers? To make it easier to justify so that when someone asks us how we’re paying for school we can say ‘financial aid’ instead of ‘debt’? That is a deliberate, manipulative marketing tactic on their part. ‘Aid’ is defined as charitable assistance, and the last time I checked, charitable assistance isn’t supposed to come with an interest rate. When is the last time you donated to Red Cross and asked for an interest rate?
Did anyone consult us about how much debt we’d like to graduate with? Why is this happening to us in the first place? Why can the federal and state government get away with spending $1.2 trillion on sending young people to die fighting wars abroad but not to learn and study in school? Our government wants us to kill and die for it and yet won’t even pay for us to go to school. Ironically, the government actually makes three times as much money from educated people because we pay more in taxes, so it’s actually in their interest to pay for our schooling.
Simply ‘lowering’ tuition is not going to solve the problem; it could always be raised again. We need radical solutions, and we need them now. We have a right to equal protection under the law, but how can this be when we are specifically targeted by giant loan corporations that give our ‘financial aid’ centers bribes to be ‘preferred lenders’? I realize this issue can be overwhelming, and some students are going to be apathetic and dismiss this issue as just another one they can’t change.
They are wrong. This issue is perhaps the defining issue of our generation. Money knows no boundaries. Whatever identity we have for ourselves, we all understand it. We all understand that our system is a failing one up to this point. And we all understand that now is the perfect time, the only time, to do something about it. We outnumber the decision-makers by the thousands. If we stand together and make this our issue, we can reverse this student-exploiting trend in universities everywhere.
We are shocked and outraged that tuition has just gone up��’again. Why do administrators and financial aid ‘officers’ and UC President Robert C. Dynes let this happen to us? What is Dynes doing with his time? Why has tuition gone up under his watch? In just 10 years, fees have skyrocketed at a disgusting rate. And to what end? Have benefits for students increased? Is parking easier? Are the textbooks better? Has any UC built a giant dome to protect students from harmful UV rays? What is all that money being spent on? If fees have nearly doubled from $1,029 in 1996 and 1997 to today’s $1,950 per quarter, where is the benefit?
It is only fair that all the UCs concretely show their students where that extra income they are receiving from us is going. It is fair to say a student in 1996 and 1997 got the same level of education we are getting today. So the old excuse that ‘education is what you’re paying for’ is pathetic. A graduate from the class of 1996 has just as good a level of education as ours, yet we are paying thousands more. Ninety-two thousand dollars for four years (which includes tuition, room and board and other expenses) is cruel and unusual, especially for a public school.
I want to focus now on a possible solution for our generation to change this trend of student exploitation. We can show the government that it is actually in its interest to help us with school. I am proposing to begin an organization on campus whose purpose is to lower tuition, drop fees and wake the local and state (and eventually federal) governments up to our existence. This organization is for everyone concerned about tuition and other fees. E-mail me the time/day of week you’d like to see the club operate so as many people as possible can attend.