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Hidden College Fees and Student Debt in California

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UC Berkeley Student Senator Briana Mullen and UC Berkeley sociologist Charlie Eaton have a new op-ed calling for the University of California to eliminate hidden fees that have been increasing despite a UC tuition freeze.

The op-ed ran in the Sunday edition of the San Jose Mercury News,Oakland Tribune, and other Bay Area newspapers.

Consider Briana’s story:

Briana… is among the students that pay more than $34,000 even though they are maximum financial aid recipients. To meet the growing work and loan obligation, Briana has worked 20 to 35 hours a week on top of serving as a student senator.

She has never failed a class. But she also hasn’t been able to take the four classes a semester that she would need to graduate in four years. As a result, Briana has had to take summer classes.

And, as you probably guessed, summer classes require yet more “campus” and “document” fees that are not covered by financial aid.

Students at California State Universities have similarly been hit hard by campus fee increases.  The forthcoming “Borrowing Against the Future” report details how these fees go to pay off large debts for amenities like dorms and recreation centers that are intended to attract students willing to pay higher fees and tuition.

Solutions to college affordability and access will need to address fees and the amenities they pay for as well as tuition.

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Charlie Eaton

Charlie Eaton is a Postdoctoral Scholar in the Stanford Graduate School of Education. His research looks at how organizations shape inequality through politics, the economy, and social policy. His dissertation is on the financialization of higher education. You can follow him on Twitter @eatoncharlie

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