Fight looming tuition hikes

After a couple of years of in-state tuition freezes at the University of Minnesota, it came as no surprise that in June 2015 the Board of Regents passed University President Eric Kaler’s budget, which allowed for a 1.5 percent resident tuition increase and a 7 percent non-resident tuition increase beginning Fall 2015. But did anyone notice the larger bill?
Tuition at the University has gotten so out of control that it is basically incomprehensible to most people. With the reliance on student loans and the ever-increasing cost of education, the out-of-pocket expense students are being forced to pay is abstract. 
It all begins to sink in, however, after you’re done with college — when you have banks attempting to collect not just the debt you took out but also the interest that is accrued on top of that. This is reality, and it is a frightening one for the entire generation of students entering the world with crippling student loan debt and poor job prospects. 
But the fact that a public institution is responsible for the most massive amount of debt any of us will likely take on in our lives is not an issue the University administration cares to address. Instead, it prefers to blur numbers, look at other Big Ten institutions and say, “Hey, at least we aren’t that bad.” At the same time, it enacts policies that draw our school closer to being “that bad.” This is exactly what the next round of tuition hikes has in store for us. 
In December, Kaler proposed increasing non-resident tuition by 60 percent in just four years. This is something students must speak out against because the repercussions are serious. 
Tuition going up means the University is not fulfilling its land grant mission to “[share] … knowledge through education for a diverse community; and to … benefit the people of the state, the nation and the world.” Instead, it is cutting people out of the ivory tower — people who already can’t afford a public education. 
Students need to get angry about the prospect of more tuition hikes. Students need Kaler and the Regents to drop tuition so that a bachelor’s degree at a public school doesn’t turn into a lifetime of debt. Students need to start demanding a change to the way things have always been, and we need to start looking out for our own economic self-interests with as much priority as the University administration looks out for their own.
We need to hold our University accountable to its mission, and we need to demand change now. 
Stephanie Taylor
University alumna