Despite the fact that Governor Herbert continues to talk about the importance of an educated workforce, students who attend Salt Lake Community College saw a six percent increase in tuition for the 2013-2014 school year. They also saw an increase in the interest rate, which is now tied to the performance of 10-year treasury bills, for subsidized Stafford Loans from the government at a national level.
According to the SLCC website, over the last ten years, SLCC tuition has increased from $1,017.50 to $1,671—that’s just over 64 percent. Until the governor and the state legislature are convinced to fully fund schools, students can expect that number to continue to rise.
Students need to organize themselves and use their political influence at both the state and national levels, or they can expect tuition and other related costs to continue to rise.
Salt Lake County Mayor Peter Corroon talked to students about getting involved in politics. Corroon wanted to make a change when he and his wife had trouble finding daycare for their child.
Former Taylorsville Mayor Russ Wall got involved in politics when he had a hard time getting a permit for a garage. Both Corroon and Wall were able to make changes in government.
When Wall came to campus, students came away with the idea that if they get involved in government, they can make a difference. While they may not have to run for office, they do have to participate in the government at some level to make that change.
Even Congressman Jim Matheson contacted “The Globe” to encourage students to contact their representatives and senators at the national level when the student loan interest rate was set to increase.
Just like “Groundhog Day,” every year is a repeat of the last. Herbert proclaims that education is important, the legislature fails to fund it fully, and the Board of Regents increase the tuition for every state college in Utah at the Tier One level. SLCC was lucky because the college has chosen not to increase tuition at the Tier Two level at least once in the last three years.
Starting with the new semester, students will have the opportunity to change the status quo and influence their representatives to fully fund higher education. Using electronic forms of communication like Twitter and email is good. However, calling your representative and senator or going to see them at the Capitol Building is even more powerful.
You will be able to tell them why your education is important and what will happen to you and others like you if tuition continues to increase at rates that far outpace inflation and real income among the working class. Your personal story will be more powerful than any numbers or theoretical accounts could ever be, especially if you are a registered voter.
It is up to you and your classmates to make your own hope for lower tuition and fees. The way to do that is through making sure that your government representatives know what you think they should do about higher education. That takes communication.