In a move that shocked millions of California students, the UC Board of Regents voted to raise tuition 19 percent and threatened to increase tuition and fees, or what Lieutenant Governor John Garamendi called "student taxes," by 30 percent next summer if there are cuts to the education budget because of the war. The regents, who are mostly elderly and upper class, rejected proposals for capping fee increases on students and continued their support for costly nuclear weapons programs. Many students in the anti-war movement expressed their shock and disillusionment at the regents' decision to continue spending for weapons known to kill and injure innocent Iraqis while simultaneously increasing fees at home and cutting desperately needed educational services. Addressing a Tulsa Community College audience, legendary feminist activist Gloria Steinem stated that "tuition has gone up 30 percent under the Bush administration."
Author and scholar Naomi Wolf cites the growing crisis in education as symptomatic of the Bush administration's larger goal of closing down society through privatizing the public sector. "It's the vision of the hollow state," Wolf stated at a lecture in early 2008. She makes the case that just like pre-fascist Germany, Americans are letting the pillars of democracy crumble, such as public education. As American society becomes more privatized, the cost of necessities – like heating, oil, gas, education and health care – rises and only the richest can afford them. The cost to educate someone at UC Irvine is far more than what many students throughout Europe pay.
CampusProgress.org also detailed how spending less on education, due to an enormous war budget, has affected college students. For instance, over 6 in 10 college graduates are burdened with educational debt. Total student debt in the United States is more than $471 billion—and that's not including private loans. Between 2001 and 2010, two million academically qualified students will not go to college because they cannot afford it.
The average student today graduates with debt twice that of graduates a decade ago, and enters a job market where the average job pays less than it would have in 2000. College textbooks have tripled in price since 1986 and the average college senior now graduates with $3,200 in credit card debt and $18,900 in student loans. Graduates of public colleges and universities accumulate almost as much debt as their peers at private institutions.
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