The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

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Time for a dose of perspective

I hate to sound contrarian, but it is sadly unavoidable sometimes. Such is the case with the current hand-wringing over tuition increases at CSUN and other public universities. The truth is that we students get quite a deal for our university education, despite the tuition increases over the past four years.

Consider the numbers. A full time equivalent student will pay $1,518 for the Fall 2005 semester. That not only includes the $1,260 tuition fee, but covers fees for Student Health Services, Associated Students, instructional activities and facilities.

In other words, you can get money from A.S. for your club or organization as well as concerts or other activities organized by S.P.A.C.E. You have access to a free clinic where they offer immunizations, disease screenings, and counseling services. Your fees also pay for the myriad labs, computers and study centers offered by the university. This is all on top of the 6.1+ units that you are allowed to take.

Your tuition fees thus pay for a vast array of services, both educational and social that are available to you, the student. Yet only a fool would believe that all this can be paid for with the measly sun of $1,518 per student.

The truth is that our education is heavily subsidized. A report by California Postsecondary Education Commission to the California State Assembly summarized the extent to which the people of California underwrite the education of their university students.

The 2003 report found that the state of California spent $10,200 per year for each full time CSU student. Student tuition fees accounted for $2,046 per student. This means the state subsidized each CSU student’s education to the tune of $8,154.

A CSU student in 2003 paid for only 20 percent of their college education. The other 80 percent was paid for out of the pockets of the good people of the state of California.

Well that’s 2003, you might say. Tuition has gone up a lot since then. Yet even if we factor in the tuition increases and assume the state’s costs have not risen since 2003 (a dubious proposition) then the $1,518 that a full time student pays today would still only account for a little under 30 percent of the cost of education.

The truth is that students are largely given a free ride. This is especially true if one factors in grants based on meritorious achievement and economic need, financial aid, low-interest federal loans and other means of assistance. Family support, both the monetary and housing kind, also contribute to savings realized by students.

Further money can be saved by transferring to a CSU school from the community college level, where the student pays only 10 percent of the education cost. At most, a student that spends five years navigating the CSU system will spend around $15,000 on tuition. Many of the cars that you can see in the student parking lots are worth far more than that.

I pay for the vast majority of my education by working 30 hours a week and taking out student loans, but I have no delusions that I have paid for anything close to the real cost of my education. The upshot of all this is that students in the CSU system have a lot to be thankful for, both to those people who give them immediate support as well as the faceless masses of taxpayers who underwrite the majority of their education. Without these two types of support, education would be out of reach for all but the wealthiest of Californians.

We should all remember that the next time we hear the foot stamping and speechifying that accompanies the latest tuition fee increase.

Sean Paroski can be reached at

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