Monday, February 20, 2012

HB 2675, The Minimum Contribution Bill -- Education Under Attack in Arizona!

HB 2675, also known as the Minimum Contribution Bill, is a bill introduced into the House in Arizona. Upon being introduced, it had 25 sponsors! To put that in perspective, most bills that have a lot of support usually only have as much as 5 sponsors.

So far, the Bill has been withdrawn from the agenda from the Education Committee, but is now going to be considered in the Appropriations Committee.

This bill requires all university students in Arizona to pay a minimum of $2000 towards their tuition out of pocket before being eligible for grants, scholarships, student loans, or any other financial aid that is regulated or processed through the university.

This bill does have some exceptions, but they are few. First, full-ride athletic scholarships are excluded from this requirement; and second, full-ride national merit scholarships are also excluded. But only up to 5% of total students can even qualify for an exemption.

Though the intent of this bill was to make students more invested in their education, it is clear that their efforts are misguided. For one, students are already invested in their education!

When you consider how much time, effort, money, and even travel is involved with school and how much sleep and free time students miss out on, it's hard to think that they aren't invested in their education. Not only do students have to pay tuition, but there are also fees along-side tuition, skyrocketing text book costs, expensive parking options, not to mention and tools and materials they might need for specific classes.

Furthermore, by requiring this mandatory contribution, the state is pushing more students out of the education system, which in the long run is going to drastically injure the state's economy further. There will be less skilled workers here, fewer people setting up new companies when they get out of college, and fewer companies that are going to want to settle in a state with a weak education system. And by virtue of the state being a part of the country, it will also injure the nation as a whole.

Plus, the bill has provisions to increase the amount and reevaluate the contribution every year, leading to unforeseeable increases in the minimum contribution until only the richest families can afford education.

That is possibly an exaggerated argument, but it has real implications.

What is even more real is that this kind of legislation opens up doors for other bills of the same nature. If bills like this are allowed to pass, especially with how tight the state's budget is right now, politicians would probably be more than happy to keep shifting more and more of the responsibility of education onto the students, until we're run down, broken, and in thousands of dollars in debt without a degree because we can no longer afford to go.

Education must be protected. It is not only an asset to those who seek to gain knowledge and skills to get a better job, but also to the country as a whole which depends on educated citizens to continue competing in an ever-growing, complex world market.


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