By Mark Lang
The Austin American Statesman announced on March 2 that The University of Texas Board of Regents is likely to increase college tuition. If the hike is approved, Texas would join other states such as California, which has increased tuition fees 32 percent, according to NBC News. The Universities of Georgia and Illinois have proposed increasing tuition rates by 20 percent. State authorities say such increases are necessary due to slashed state budgets, leaving them no choice but to raise tuition rates and student fees.
The proposed changes at the University of Texas would include a 5.4 percent increase or $241 more than current charges for 2010-11. Tuition rates would raise another 3.89 percent or $183 to $4,892 a semester for years 2011-12.
The Nationwide increases in college tuition have spawned massive student demonstrations in more than 100 college campuses. Students are protesting the school budget cuts, teacher lay-offs, and tuition increases. While most of these rallies are non violent, protests in University of California Berkeley included overturning cars and setting fires in the street. "It's a strong way of discrimination on a fiscal level... just economic discrimination which pushes out the marginalized," UC Berkeley protester Michael Anthony Hopkins told reporters.
Universities and colleges in Texas are already known for their low minority enrollment. In 1996, out of a University of Texas freshman class of 6,500, only 150 African American students attended. Tuition increases will only further shut out minorities from higher learning. Higher learning should not only be a right for a select few wealthy students. Access to universities and colleges should be available to all qualified individuals, regardless of the ability to pay.