Letter to the editor: Are you paying too much for your CSUN education?

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In 2005 the Associated Press published an article that stated, ‘The United States is losing ground in education, as peers across the globe zoom by with bigger gains in student achievement and school graduations’hellip;’ This study was based on two measures, adults age 25 to 34, with at least a high school degree, and adults from the same age group who hold a college degree. Barry McGraw, director of education for the Paris-based Organization for Cooperation and Development says that by both measure the United States was first in the world as recently as 20 years ago. One of the primary reasons for this drastic decline in our educational standing is the soaring cost. According to the Educational Policy Institute, the U.S. ranks as number 14 out of 16 in highest overall education costs.

For many older adults returning to school, the cost of an education at CSUN can be even higher than the exact same education for younger students. Unfair tuition guidelines, in effect, penalize adults who have to work 40 hours a week to support themselves, and often a family. Working adults returning to school, hoping to share in the American dream, are usually very limited in the number of units they can take per semester. For most, the maximum number of units in any one semester is eight or nine, yet they are forced to pay the exact same tuition as their younger counterparts who can take 12 or more units because they still live at home and/or are subsidized by their parents. Older adults who have been paying state taxes for years or even decades are helping subsidize our state college system. Because of tuition guidelines at CSUN and throughout the California State University system, older adults wind up paying 50 percent or more for the exact same education.

I personally know several working adults attending school at CSUN. They all complain that it’s unfair to have to pay so much more for the same education. Frustrated and angry, I contacted CSUN via email. My first letter received a reply from a Mr. Randy Reynaldo, Executive Assistant to the President. In his reply, Mr. Reynaldo tried to support CSUN’s position on tuition. He stated that he was aware that many older, tax-paying adults attended CSUN, but argued that the younger students would eventually pay taxes too. Unfortunately, he failed to address the issue of unfair burden of tuition expenses on older adults; adults who have already been paying taxes for several years or, like me, for several decades. Still, I was grateful that he took the time to respond personally to my email.

I sent a second email, this one directly to Mr. Reynaldo, hoping I had at least found a sympathetic ear. I pointed out that he had overlooked the issue that the school’s tuition policies clearly put a much larger financial burden on the people who are already paying the taxes that help fund CSUN. I also provided him with a list of colleges across the country and their respective tuition fees. I was able to find this list online in a matter of mere minutes by typing in a few simple search words. Colleges like Oregon State, Washington State, Utah State, and College of Southern Nevada, just to name a few. Every college on the list charged their students on a per unit basis, which ensures that no student is forced to pay more than any other student. Sadly, I never received a reply to my second email.

Despite a litany of studies that show a progressive decline in our educational standing compared to other nations, CSUN and the California State University system seemingly remain alarmingly indifferent to this growing problem. Since it seems obvious that the people paid to run our college systems don’t give a damn it falls on us, the paying students, to take a stand. I know there are many other students attending CSUN that feel the same way I do and I encourage each and every one of you to take action.

Michael Patrick Lavelle
pre-accountancy major