Wednesday, February 22, 2012

HB 2675 Passes Appropriations Committee - Destined to Move to House Floor - Minimum Contribution Bill 2012

HB 2675, the Minimum Contribution Bill, is a bill that requires all university students in Arizona to pay a minimum contribution of $2000 towards their tuition. The bill was introduced with 25 sponsors and has been scheduled to be heard in 2 committees: the Education Committee and the Appropriations Committee.

The bill was removed from the agenda (and effectively killed) in the Education Committee, but was still scheduled to be heard in the Appropriations Committee.

The bill which was introduced by Rep. Kavanagh was intended to make sure that "students have skin in the game," as the popular catch phrase of the bills supporters put so elegantly. They want to make sure that students are invested in their education, complaining that an estimated 48% of students pay no tuition, a statistic introduced by the Arizona Board of Regents (the governing body of the Arizona education system), which is no being brought under question as being an anomaly and a bloated figure, especially since the statistic is several years old and does not take into consideration the recent tuition leaps that has nearly doubled tuition in the past several years due to a lack of funding promised by the state.

The bill was heard today in the committee and passed with one amendment that opens up an exception for student loans. Although the bill is no less detrimental than it was before, it is still a step in the wrong direction.

According to statistics introduced by the Arizona Students' Association at the hearing, the actual number of students who pay no tuition is much closer to 7,000 (a drastically smaller number), but that these students are those with the worst financial situation and the greatest need. And as tuition continues to increase and education becomes more and more expensive, these 7,000 students may have to find desperate means of paying for the education anyway because the need-based aid they are receiving now may not even be enough, especially if the state continues to cut back education funding.

I know that I can barely even afford college, and I take out the maximum amount of student loans that I can. If it weren't for my $3,000 / year grant I receive, I might not be able to afford it at all, as that barely even covers books. And even with my grant and my thousands of dollars of student loans, I still have to work just to pay my bills, while trying to balance sleep and school work.

Even with the new amendment that grants me and others and exception for taking out student loans, I still strongly oppose this bill because it is hurting education, students, the economy, and America!

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.


I can't wait to start my life

I've been going to college now since I was 18. Since then, I have learned a lot and had a lot of great experiences. I started off in community college where tuition was only about $2000/year, and it was reasonable enough that my dad paid it for me. But when I went to a university, the cost more than tripled! What more, my dad was no longer willing to support my education. I had to spread my wings and fly.

So I've been pretty much racking up debt ever since then. Every year, I happily take on thousands of dollars of debt, knowing that one day I will be able to accomplish my dreams. But now, I'm finally starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel as I finish up my 5th or 6th year of college..

Come May 2013, I will be graduating with both of my bachelor's degrees, and I couldn't be more excited. As much as I want to keep going to school and learning more, I hate this limbo I'm in where I can't afford to not work, and I can't find work that I like. I struggle with money every month, and it only gets harder from here.

On the other hand, I have my Model United Nations and my internship which are lots of fun and keep me motivated. I know that I wouldn't have the life I do now unless I continue to work and make my way through every hardship that follows. And once I graduate, I can finally apply for a PhD and get all kinds of funding, and then I will never have to work a crummy retail job again! It will just be study, study, study, and then finally I will be able to move on with my life and do the things I want to do.

And then I can go back for another PhD! =3