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Volume 70, Issue 128, Wednesday, April 13, 2005


For students, rising tuition a balancing act

Financial aid, loans might not be enough to keep some enrolled

Cougar News Staff

For political science sophomore Sarah Tahir, a tuition and fee increase the UH System Board of Regents approved last week means a more delicate balance between work and study.

"(With a tuition increase) I would have to work more. My parents don't pay tuition; I do," Tahir, who works at an electronics store and receives financial aid, said. "If I have to work more, I can't study as much."

Many students are finding themselves trying harder to make ends meet in the wake of rising tuition and fees. The most recent increase at UH, which will take effect in the fall, is 5 percent, but that's on top of a total 25 percent increase the regents have approved since 2003, when the state Legislature gave public universities the ability to set a portion of their tuition.

The most recent increase means resident undergraduates taking 12 hours will pay at least $126.25 more in the fall than they do now, but that doesn't include college-based differential tuition, which increased at varying rates depending on major.

"It's discouraging to students who are trying to better themselves and can barely afford the cost now. With the increase, some are likely to have to drop out," said consumer science and research management senior Natalie Gutierrez, who lacks 12 hours to a December graduation.

Gutierrez holds two jobs to help her cover tuition, fees and books.

Psychology senior Jessica Pazda, who also plans to graduate in December, said she'll have to work more to cover the rising costs.

"I depend on student loans to finance my education, and those don't increase with the tuition," Pazda said. "I don't know how I am going to make up for the difference."

Though a percentage of the revenue from the tuition increase will be set aside for financial aid, it won't help students like Pazda who rely on loans.

Some critics of tuition deregulation claim it will drive students at state universities to community colleges, and that may happen for business freshman Alberto Garcia.

"That is probably what will happen," Garcia said. "I'll have to do a lot of classes at community college, not here."

Some students, however, said they feel like the tuition and fee increases are something they'll just have to deal with.

Marcus Clark, a computer engineering senior, pays for school through a job and student loans. Though he said he doesn't know if that combination will keep him in school if costs continue to rise, he plans to stick with it.

"I'll continue going to school, no matter what," Clark said.

And there's a ray of hope of a different kind for Jessica Sadler, a pre-pharmacy freshman: "My sister goes to UT, so (my parents) won't complain," she said. "My tuition is still lower."

With reporting by Adriana Barillas-Batarse, Matt Cooper, Jessica Robertson, Rachael Seeley and Roxanne Valdez.

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