Are you a first-generation college student? This NYTimes article published in April 8 provides a detailed look at what it means to be first-generation on some of America's most prestigious college campuses.
Lauren Chase, one of the student leaders in our U/Fused network was quoted in a New York Times article about Washington University. As it stands, WashU is the least economically diverse of colleges near the top. She speaks of the struggles low-income students face and the isolation they feel "when their friends are all going out to dinner three times a week, or their student group is ordering expensive apparel every year, or their professors expect them to be able to buy expensive books each semester.”
By Rusty Mau
Article IX, Section 9, of the N.C. Constitution reads, “The General Assembly shall provide that the benefits of The University of North Carolina and other public institutions of higher education, as far as practicable, be extended to the people of the State free of expense.” The General Assembly’s commitment to this mandate is the reason North Carolina has always been a national leader in providing affordable higher education to its residents.
I remember getting a lot of glossy pamphlets from prospective colleges during my senior year of high school and thinking about what it might be like to spend four years of my life at each of them. I prided myself on being a good student, earning above-average grades in my school’s rigorous International Baccalaureate program. I was rewarded with acceptance letters from nearly every college I applied to.
But I soon learned that I was naïve to think that only hard work mattered in getting into the college of my dreams. In fact, one part of my background counted more than anything else — my immigration status.
By Doug Blackburn
Star Manning came to Tallahassee to go to college because she wanted to be close to friends she made during her time as a U.S. Marine.
Manning, 31, a native of Los Angeles, first earned her associate’s degree at Tallahassee Community College. The GI Bill covered her school costs.
But when she transferred to the journalism program at Florida A&M, Manning was disappointed to learn that there was not enough money left in her GI Bill account to pay her tuition as an out-of-state student.
Brayan Vazquez, a student at Miami Dade College travels over 100 miles every Tuesday and Thursday just to get to school and back. It shouldn't be like this. Brayan is undocumented and was granted Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). He's been in Florida for the past 7 years and his only affordable option for college is Miami Dade because they allow Brayan to pay in-state tuition.
From a March 4 article in The Reporter at Miami Dade College:
On a chilly morning in Boynton Beach, glimmers of dawn cut through the pitch-black sky, as Brayan Vazquez steps out of his home and begins a 55-mile journey to school.
Brayan (pronounced BRY-uhn) is undocumented.
He doesn’t have a car or a driver’s license, so today, like every Tuesday and Thursday, his dad Jesus Vazquez heads to his construction job in Boca Raton and drops Brayan, a 19-year-old computer science major at Miami Dade College, off at the Delray Beach Tri-Rail station to start his nearly two-hour trek to North Campus.
Speaker of the Florida House of Representatives Will Weatherford again expressed his support for in-state tuition for undocumented Floridian students. On the first day of the 2014 legislative session, Weatherford justified his position on the House floor by saying "We should never punish a child for the mistake of their parents."
From a March 4 Sunshine State News article:
As has often been the case since taking over their chambers after the 2012 election, Weatherford stressed he and Gaetz are mostly on the same page but the speaker also brought up an issue on which they differ by calling for the children of undocumented immigrants to receive in-state tuition at Florida’s colleges and universities.
In the Jan. 19 Arizona Daily Star article “Arizona spends too much sending too many to college, lawmaker says,” Rep. John Kavanagh, chairman of the Arizona House Appropriations Committee, said, “If somebody’s going to end up in a sales position or be a real estate agent, why are we investing all this money in a research university degree?”
Rep. Kavanagh raises an important question. As he correctly states, tax revenues and student tuition dollars support university students. We need to ask questions about the wisdom of these investments.
What is the purpose of attending universities like the University of Arizona? There are two answers.
Students pursuing higher education in Virginia continue to see tremendous increases in tuition rates — 41 percent over the past five years at four-year schools — due in large part to the decrease in state support. Virginia community colleges have also seen state support drop, from $4,275 per student to $2,583 in the past four years, driving tuition up for those students who can often least afford it. With each new year, higher education becomes less and less affordable, and students are graduating with more debt than ever; the average student debt load in Virginia is $24,717.
Moreover, even the increases in tuition rates still do not account for the lack of state-appropriated funds, and colleges and universities are having to make cuts and reduce funding to some important components of higher education, including course offerings and class sizes.
But for every problem, if we have our priorities straight, there’s a solution. One step in the right direction is the $50.9 million unallocated balance former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell left behind in his last budget, the largest unappropriated balance since 1991. I can’t think of a more worthy priority for the commonwealth’s future than making higher education more affordable for Virginia students.