Skyrocketing Tuition = Skyrocketing Debt

Students rally at University of California, Davis on November 21, 2011.

DAVID TAINTOR NOVEMBER 22, 2011, 12:24 PM 3347 42

The shocking images of police officers pepper-spraying sitting protesters have been the focus of attention on the University of California, Davis, this week. But lost in the aftermath of that incident is the reality of skyrocketing tuition in the University of California system, which the students were protesting.

California’s public universities lead the nation in tuition hikes, The Los Angeles Times reports. And just last week, during a raucous meeting, California State University trustees approved a 9 percent tuition hike, the AP reports. Several people were arrested at the meeting, where a glass door was shattered, and the demonstrations briefly shutdown the meeting. In 2009, students furiously protested a 32 percent tuition increase. Many students were arrested during the demonstrations, CNN reports.

The need for tuition hikes, the university system argues, is a result of less and less state funding for higher education. It’s a theme familiar to public universities all over the country. The New York Times reports that tuition at the University of California has nearly doubled over the past few years. Next year, the UC system will collect more from tuition than state revenues.

Annual tuition and fees at UC Davis for the 2010-11 academic year is $13,080 for California residents, compared to $8,129 for the 2005-06 academic year.

The prevailing narrative out of UC Davis has been the protesters’ ties to the Occupy Wall Street movement. And it’s been reported that a number of demonstrators on campus weren’t UC students. But it’s important to remember the University-of-California-specific issues these students face, namely rising tuition, when looking at what incites the unrest.

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