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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Kavanagh’s Arizona tuition bill misguided, hurts low-income students

    It’s often been said that you can’t put a price on a good education. But Rep. John Kavanagh, R-Fountain Hills, is doing his damnedest to try.

    House Bill 2675 would require full-time students attending Arizona universities to pay $2,000 out of pocket, without financial aid from private or public funding, including grants and scholarships.

    Kavanagh, who introduced HB 2675, said it was inspired by the 48 percent of Arizona State University students who pay no tuition because of subsidies from ASU.

    The depth of Kavanagh’s cavernous ineptitude is astounding. The logic for his bill seems to be that, if you already demonstrate financial need in order to obtain a college education, you should have to pay more to do so. This is akin to when your parents make you buy that shiny new bicycle yourself, so you appreciate it more.

    The major difference is that the bicycle scenario is an attempt to teach a valuable lesson about responsibility, and Kavanagh’s bill is tantamount to class warfare.

    More specifically, it’s an attack on lower-income students, who, if you ask Kavanagh, just need a better attitude.

    “Paying for what you get builds character,” Kavanagh said in an earlier interview with the Daily Wildcat.

    True, especially if “character” is synonymous with “needless debt.”

    Kavanagh seems to be under the impression that being a plucky go-getter is what really pays for college. After all, he probably has bootstraps on his bootstraps — all the better to pull himself up by, unlike those college students leeching the state dry in their selfish pursuit of higher education.

    According to Kavanagh, the bill was necessary because, “In these times we can’t be giving away, for free, a fine university education to people who aren’t athletes or scholars.”

    Let’s break down the UA’s financial aid situation. According to a draft of the UA’s Common Data Set, a federal document that compares the nation’s universities on a variety of common topics, the UA awarded about $61.7 million in need-based financial aid to students this year. In comparison, the total amount of “self-help” aid for students — which includes non-parental loans, federal work-study programs and other employment — and parental loans totaled upwards of $122 million, almost twice as much as all the financial aid offered.

    To put that in perspective, if this debt was apportioned to every UA student enrolled in 2010, each student would have more than $2,700 in debt, including the athletes and scholars Kavanagh is feverishly working to spare.

    So what’s an extra $2,000 a pop? Everyone’s already in debt anyway. After all, there’s more student loan debt than credit card debt in the United States.

    The Arizona Constitution states, “The University and all other state educational institutions shall be open to students of both sexes, and the instruction furnished shall be nearly free as possible.”

    Color us skeptical, but graduating with thousands of dollars in debt doesn’t seem to fit the billing of being “nearly free as possible.”

    Though, to be fair, Kavanagh never benefitted from the financial aid hemorrhage that spills out of Arizona’s universities. He only received degrees from New York University, St. John’s University and Rutgers University. And most assuredly Kavanagh’s bootstraps were sufficiently cinched to get through college without state subsidies. At best, Kavanagh’s bill is woefully misguided, and at worst it deliberately targets students who are already financially stretched. He and his fellow members of the Legislature would do well to remember that a student’s financial struggle is neither a frame of mind nor a character-building exercise. It’s a stark reality begat out of a state that continues to wage an ever-escalating war on public education.

    Maybe if Kavanagh didn’t have cranial atrophy he would be able to rethink a bill that places an additional and undue burden on those that already struggle the most. After all, a mind, much like money, is a terrible thing to waste.

    — Editorials are determined by the Daily Wildcat editorial board and written by one of its members. They are Bethany Barnes, Kristina Bui, Steven Kwan, Luke Money and Michelle A. Monroe. They can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu or on Twitter via @WildcatOpinions.

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