UT officials are debating raising tuition by $150 per semester. They are measuring this cost against the benefits of replenishing the budget, increasing salaries, fixing University buildings and increasing research. It is true that students can profit by these adjustments. However, some students are too busy trying to survive to consider that. Students who are scared about how they will pay for their next meal cannot think about the old desks in Burdine. These protests against the tuition increase should hold the most weight.
Mary Knight, UT’s interim vice president and chief financial officer, said the decision to increase tuition was based on many different factors including a funding cut in 2009, salary increases for faculty and an increase in funding for research. Prior to this year, the process to counter these financial burdens has primarily been cutting the budgets within departments. Knight said these adjustments have not been enough for the University to maintain its rank as a top research institution.
“We don’t want to put everything on the backs of students, but there needs to be some movement forward,” Knight said.
Increasing tuition by 3 percent to overcome the financial deficit is, at the surface, a harmless way to benefit UT. But the students affected would have to sacrifice buying necessities such as food or books.
Management information systems junior Brenda Ta said she still struggles to make ends meet despite her job and scholarships because UT didn’t give her enough financial aid, and her parents can’t afford to support her.
“My parents don’t pay for anything because they can’t afford school for me,” Ta said. “An extra $150 to me can go towards rent. Increasing tuition is ridiculous. I’m going to have to cut down on groceries and food.”
Economics junior Farhan Manjiyani said the tuition increase will further the academic divide between him and more privileged students.
“I think you have a good number of students who have intergenerational wealth and can afford to go through their education lavishly,” Manjiyani said. “I came here knowing the sacrifice. I can’t afford this, but I’m going anyways because I think it’s worth it. [UT officials] need to empathize where these students are coming from. They’re having to choose between eating your next meal or buying a textbook.”
The tuition increase is not an arbitrary number. It’s a healthy dinner, a book for class, utilities bill or a jacket for when the temperature drops. This isn’t an ethical appeal to students to help out their University after budget cuts. Businesses face financial cuts and are forced to find ways to adjust. UT can do the same without adding extra pressure and restraints on those already drowning by the cost of living.
Kroeger is a human relations senior from Corpus Christi.