EDITORIAL: Concern, confusion and contention have risen among students upon hearing that the Amarillo College board of regents voted recently to raise tuition. AC is known for being considerably more cost effective than state universities, making higher education more accessible to students from various economic backgrounds, but this tuition hike has left many students worried they will no longer be able to afford school. We, The Ranger, are here to ease your concerns about the increase. This is not a time for panic, but it is a time for action.
The AC board of regents approved an increase of $5.25 per credit hour, which equates to part-time students paying around $30 more per semester and full time paying about an additional $60. This increase is minimal—especially considering the news that AC is likely to receive a $1.5 million cut in funding from the state. Nevertheless. Dr. Russell Lowery-Hart told us he is privy to how much stress any additional financial burden can cause students. Do not be alarmed. The AC Foundation has assured students that additional scholarship money will be available to alleviate any detrimental impact of the cost hike.
Despite the tuition increase, AC is still substantially more affordable than most community colleges and universities. Unfortunately, community colleges receive considerably less state funding than universities. Community colleges sometimes must raise tuition and fees to offset these discrepancies. To make matters worse, recent declines in oil and gas revenue mean the state of Texas has less money must make cutbacks in spending. Predictions are that legislators plan to slash community college funding—again.
We understand that cutbacks will have to be made, but why cut the most economical way of educating the state population? Money is scarce, but community colleges impose a small financial burden in comparison to large state universities. It is nonsensical for the state to cut one of the most financially feasible paths to higher education.
Now is the time to take action. Instead of stressing out over the increase, students should think of ways to budget more efficiently and have $30-$60 per semester put aside. Whether that is eating out less, cutting back on lattes or saving a little each week, budgeting for this slight increase is doable.
Students should also take this time to channel their frustration into furthering their cause. Instead of sitting around and worrying about how you can afford tuition and fees, grab your laptop and use these concerns as fuel. Write letters to your state representatives, Four Price and John Smithee, and your state senator, Kel Seliger, expressing the importance of funding for community colleges. Let them know you need their help so that you can be successful. After all, this is your future. So what are you doing still reading this? Grab your laptop and get writing–community colleges deserve the state’s support… and so do you.