New CA ballot initiative fights for free tuition

By Courtney Sims |Staff Writer|

A new ballot initiative hopes to make California State Universities tuition-free, leaving Californians to pick up the check.
The state has come a long way from its original plan, which was founded in 1960, that promised a free education for all residents.
Since then California has faced a tough financial crisis and  because of that  the state has had to make tough decisions.
A small group of people, consisting of teachers and students, have just been given the ok from the state legislator to gather signatures for a new proposal.
The amending proposal would allow for all CSU’s and UC’s to become tuition- free universities.  If the initiative meets requirements and is approved by voters, this could deepen the financial hole the state is already in.
“The nonpartisan Legislative Analyst and the governor’s Director of Finance say there could be an annual loss of state tuition revenue of about $2.8 billion per year beginning in 2013-2014, [refilled] by additional state personal income tax revenue that is likely to total $2 billion or more per year,” as reported on the  CSU website.
Parents of students are downright outraged at the thought of raising taxes and adding to the state’s rising deficit.
“Californians need to wake up and smell the coffee, I can’t believe after all the crap we had to deal with, higher taxes and our financial crisis, we are even thinking of free tuition, I will gladly pay for my child’s education,” said Stuart Evans, parent of a CSUSB student.
College professors  fear this would hurt the CSU system by forcing universities to accept less students in order to keep cost down, ultimately effecting their education.
“Free tuition sounds good, but in reality without tuition CSU schools could struggle to pay expenses to keep the quality of education offered at reasonable levels,” said Dr. Nathan Carter,  a researcher for the US Department of Education. “[CSUSB] could also accept less students to avoid losing money,” the professor continued.
“It would add 0.7 percent to the personal income tax rate applied to taxable income over $250,000 (over $342,465 if filing as head of household), and add 1.7 percent to personal income tax rate applied to taxable income over $500,000 (over $684,930 if filing as head of household),” as reported by the Central Valley Times.
The requirement for students who wish to attend a free university must adhere to the GPA requirements, which will increase to 2.7 or perform over 70 hours of community service for full time enrollment.
The new initiative has students pleased with the idea of free tuition but at the same time leaving them to wonder how this would affect their quality education.
“While getting something for free sounds like a great deal, I think it becomes important to step back and examine what ‘free education’ would really entail,” said student Amy Wassing.
Schools all over the country that are tuition-free rely on state grants and donations to cover the estimated cost to put each student through the program.
In order for this initiative to qualify for the upcoming ballot in November, the group needs to collect over 807,000 signatures from registered voters by Jun. 21.
“You get what you pay for right? I’m sure they will get the signatures needed, but I’m not so sure this would be the best thing for the CSU’s,” said Wassing.


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