Current Weather
The Spy FM

UC Students Propose Alternative To Tuition Increases

Filed by KOSU News in US News.
February 7, 2012

Chris LoCascio, a junior at UC Riverside, feared there was no end in sight for tuition increases at the University of California. The state kept cutting subsidies, students kept protesting, but no one had any answers. So he and other students decided to turn the discussion on its head.

What if “instead of charging students upfront for their education, students would attend the UC with no upfront costs whatsoever,” Locacio says.

Under the Fix UC proposal, the bill would not come due until students graduate and start making money.

“Under our proposal, students would pay 5 percent of their income for 20 years” following graduation, Locacio says.

Fix UC recently presented the idea to the university regents. The idea is that students would have a dependable bill to pay, rather than wrestling with unpredictable tuition increases and rising debt.

Not A New Idea

It’s an appealing idea, but not a brand new one.

Bob Shireman, with the nonprofit group California Competes, says conservative economist Milton Friedman wrote about similar concepts in the 1950s, saying education should be seen as an investment.

“He suggested the government should provide people with money for college, and then charge them a percentage of their income later,” Shireman says.

Shireman points out that New Zealand, Australia and the U.K. have all invested in variations on this theme. But the UC proposal raises a number of questions. It functions essentially like Social Security, in that the earnings of graduates would cover the tuition costs of the next generation.

But what if there’s a baby boom, Shireman asks, or if UC grads simply don’t earn enough money to cover the university’s operating costs?

“If over time, it was not bringing back in the money to repay,” Shireman says, “the investors would then rethink and the deal would have to be renegotiated.”

University of California President Mark Yudof recently said he’s open to the Fix UC proposal in principle. But, he says, “in it’s current form, it’s frankly unworkable.”

Attractive, Problematic Proposal

Yudof says it’s difficult to see how a state system could track earnings from workers who might move around the country, or overseas. In addition, the Fix UC proposal would reduce the state’s contribution to the university.

Legislators may like that idea, Yudof says, but severing that link could be dangerous.

“I really do prefer that the taxpayers pay their fair share — that we not treat higher education as a complete private good, in the sense that only the direct beneficiaries pay for it,” Yudof says.

The Fix UC proposal envisions a minimum for state contributions. Despite these concerns, Yudof says the Riverside students’ proposal would reach out to the segment that’s suffered the most: middle class families who don’t benefit from many aid programs.

“Having a loan program with income adjusted repayment is a very appealing way to make sure that the middle class continues to have access to higher education,” Yudof says.

Yudof says he welcomes fresh thinking that might escape the spiral of declining state aid and increasing tuition. [Copyright 2012 National Public Radio]

Leave a Reply

5AM to 9AM Morning Edition

Morning Edition

For more than two decades, NPR's Morning Edition has prepared listeners for the day ahead with two hours of up-to-the-minute news, background analysis, commentary, and coverage of arts and sports.

Listen Live Now!

9AM to 10AM The Takeaway

The Takeaway

A fresh alternative in morning news, "The Takeaway" provides a breadth and depth of world, national and regional news coverage that is unprecedented in public media.

View the program guide!

10AM to 11PM On Point

On Point

On Point unites distinct and provocative voices with passionate discussion as it confronts the stories that are at the center of what is important in the world today. Leaving no perspective unchallenged, On Point digs past the surface and into the core of a subject, exposing each of its real world implications.

View the program guide!

Upcoming Events in your area (Submit your event today!)

Streaming audio and podcasts

Stream KOSU on your smartphone

Phone Streaming

SmartPhone listening options on this page are intended for many iPhones, Blackberries, etc. with low-cost software applications available to listen to our full-time web streams, both News on KOSU-1 and Classical on KOSU-2.

Learn more about our complete range of streaming services

We're perfecting the patient experience - Stillwater Medical Center