Prison expenditures outweigh increased tuition costs


Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Become an educated citizen, and understand where your funds come from

Sara Freitag, Opinion Editor

A year spent at Harvard University may be considered one of the most costly ways to spend said time; yet, the fiscal demands of an unexpected institution surpass even those of this Ivy League.

According to the LA Times, a year spent in a California state prison costs more per inmate than aforesaid year at Harvard – including tuition, fees and room/board.  $75,560 is the cost to house an inmate within California’s state prisons, as opposed to Harvard’s attendance costs which are approximately $2,000 less.

How should this make us feel at CSUSM, where costs are steadily rising?  The estimated cost of attendance (tuition, fees and room/board) is $25,389.  Yet, a number just shy of three times this amount is collectively whisked away from our taxes in order to house a single state prison inmate.  There is a problem here.

That said, I want to address a trending complaint: “CSUSM just wants our money.”  However, are they really to blame?

Not only are our tax dollars re-directed away from education and toward prison expenditures, but for those unaware, might I introduce Proposition 13.  Passed in 1978, Proposition 13 lowered the taxing of property by allowing homeowners to bypass increased taxes due to inflation.  However, a significant portion of money previously collected through inflated property taxes had formerly been allocated toward education.

Thus, due to a subsequent decline in state funding, California’s higher education compensates through increased tuition and fees, cutbacks on classes and programs, minimized administrative services and lowered maximum enrollment.  Sound familiar?

Next time you compare yourself to your parents who probably attended university for a fraction of our fees, remember that their education was likely funded through high property taxes.  Thus, rather than aimlessly blaming our school, write to our legislators.  Realize that funding comes from somewhere.  Don’t ask for higher property taxes unless you want to deal with that in ten years.  Rather, consider requesting re-allocation of state prison funds.

Ultimately, let us strive to become engaged citizens, seeking alternative ways to empower the upcoming generation and make it possible that they receive an education as we do.