Higher Education: Who’s it Really For?

What happens when capitalism is mixed with greed and a lack of regard for students? Tuition increases.

Higher Education: Whos it Really For?

The Board of Trustees is an outdated, archaic, and foolish enterprise that should be abolished in my opinion. At present, though, they need to be more student-oriented. The decision to increase tuition and fees across the UMass system for the 22-23 academic year, as well as increase room and board by 3.9%, will have detrimental effects for the marginalized on the campuses. The system claims that “These student charge adjustments are necessary to sustain the academic excellence at each UMass campus, and provide students with the facilities and services they need and deserve,” the system said in a statement. “They follow two years of tuition freezes, remain far below the rate of inflation, and do not reflect the record-breaking grant aid ($373 million this year) that the university provides students.” 


What guarantees are there that these increases will actually help make the campuses better or improve things for those that utilize them? What about the $1.2B endowment the system has? That can’t cover the rising costs? Let’s be real, this isn’t to help students, faculty, or staff. This is to line administrative pockets within the system, including Chancellor Subbaswamy and Marty Meehan. At least for Amherst, the constant construction, the purchasing of Mount Ida, and constant over-admittance every year are some factors that have led to the increases. COVID-19 is not over, and yet the system seems to think it is. The dueling factors of capitalism and greed are working together here to make already difficult circumstances almost impossible for marginalized communities. People that are the ones most affected by the pandemic are going to be the ones most affected by this, and they may be forced to take out more loans, work more jobs, or even take time off to support their loved ones and communities. 


For me, I currently have $19,500 in debt waiting for me once I graduate. I don’t have $20,000 in my bank account to pay this at the moment, and odds are I won’t have that much for a while. It’s a scary prospect to think about, the idea that I will be spending decades paying them back, and feeling as though I will never be able to do it. The hope is to start paying them off while I’m still in school, so I’ll have less to pay for in the future. The pause that’s been in place since Trump was in office has helped, and the extensions have been more helpful. While I don’t believe student debt will be cancelled in my lifetime, it is an issue that has to be addressed quickly and with fairness. I’m contemplating having multiple jobs next semester in addition to the one I currently have to save as much as possible. I’ve applied for multiple scholarships as well, as I know tuition will take a lot out of my wallet come the fall. I had to take a year off (Fall 2020-Fall 21) to pay off a $21K debt I owed to the university. I ended up working two jobs and creating a GoFundMe to get back into UMass. I was able to do so last semester, and was able to find a job that allows me to not have to worry about housing that much, despite it not paying well and feeling overworked, exhausted, and undervalued. The BoT must forget what it’s like to be a college student, and they must also forget that most people don’t have safety nets. Instead of choosing to help alleviate student fears and make the UMass system affordable, they chose capitalism and greed. I am unsure what the future holds, but I know that if things go “back to normal”, then marginalized people, in particular Black and Brown people, will suffer and fall through the cracks all in the name of the bottom line. 


To the board, I’d say do better but you’re incapable of doing so. Frankly you should just go away, but since there’s a high likelihood you won’t, keep the freeze in place. Urge President Biden to cancel student debt. Do something useful.

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