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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Column: Million Student March should aim for realistic goals

Students and citizens across the nation joined forces on Thursday to protest rising tuition costs, growing student debts and low minimum wages. The protest, called Million Student March (#MillionStudentMarch on Twitter), included over 106 colleges, and the hashtag was tweeted over 38 thousand times.

The organization’s official Twitter, @Student_March, list the march’s demands as “1. Tuition-free college, 2. Cancellation of all student debt, and 3. $15 minimum wage for all campus workers.”

The same day, the A&M Board of Regents met and approved a 2.2 percent tuition increase. A $20 per semester fee increase was also on the docket, but following a student referendum where 63 percent of the over 5,000 Aggies who voted said they were against the fee, the Board of Regents deferred a vote on the matter to next year.

Student tuition is an issue that has been talked about from many different angles and is a large platform for many candidates (especially Democrats) in terms of whether or not to lower the rates. Democrat Bernie Sanders wants to make tuition free for all college students, while others just want to lower the rates or open them up to the free market.

It’s not an easy conversation to have, but it’s being had nonetheless and it affects millions of college students — and college graduates.

The idea behind Million Student March is admirable in that it seeks change, but their demands are, frankly, unrealistic.

Making college tuition free isn’t as simple as simply entering zero into the price category, just as erasing all student debt isn’t as simple as looking the other way. Tuition pays for professors, school upkeep, maintenance and sporting events. Higher education is more than just a professor in a classroom, it’s a degree that carries you into your career and into the workforce.

I do believe college tuition is too high and more programs should be put in place to aid students who cannot afford it. Freezing tuition rates from rising any further is a much more realistic goal than simply making it free for everyone. The value behind a college education comes, in part, from the price one has to pay for it. It’s risk versus reward, input and output.

Erasing student debt is perhaps the most ludicrous of the protesters’ demands. It sets a precedent where other debtors can point to the student debt erasing and say “Well, if they can erase their debt, why can’t I erase mine?”

A more realistic solution, instead, is to lower the interest rate or remove the rate at all. I agree that it isn’t fair for the government to profit from student debts, and if someone has to borrow money to go to college, they shouldn’t be penalized for pursuing additional education with mountains of debt. But college, again, is an asset worth value, and the value decreases when the price goes down, or the debt is erased.
There is no easy fix for the debt or tuition problems facing students. And again, I admire the goals of the marchers to spur a conversation about it, but their goals are unachievable and send the message that students aren’t educated about the intricacies of the policies behind tuition and debts, rather than having an education.

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