U.S. Higher Education Is At Risk

U.S. Higher Education Is At Risk

Whether your parents financially support your access to education or not, eventually we’re going to be the ones to pay the cost.
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What is the Republican Tax Plan? What is Net Neutrality?

Republican Tax Plan: it essentially comprises drastic tax cuts and loopholes; 1.5 trillion tax cut plan and tax breaks for the wealthy. This will be the largest change to U.S. tax code and most opposed bill in over the last 30 years; 53% of Americans are against the bill. It’s clear that this tax bill is in favor of the top 1%, for 47% of the cuts go toward the rich. It’s safe to say most Americans are disappointed, but not surprised by this considering we are living under the Trump Administration. Those not in the 1% seem to be getting handed the raw end of the deal, especially those seeking higher education. Access to affordable education will become more costly due to the elimination of various tuition aids like Student Loan Interest Deduction and Tuition Waivers.

Net Neutrality: the basic principle that ISPs (Internet service providers such as Comcast, Verizon, and AT&T) maintain equality amongst all content on the internet. Service Providers must allow all consumers to load hosted content with equal speed, cost, and access. FCC will be voting on Thursday whether or not to take away net neutrality. This is a big move considering the policy for equal regulation has been the foundation for how we consume electronic communication since The Communications Act of 1934. Without net neutrality, the internet will be “governed by lawyers and bureaucrats”, according to Ajit Pai, chair of Federal Communications Chair. There will be nothing stopping wealthy telecom companies like Verizon from slowing down the traffic of smaller telecom companies and organizations. For where students are concerned, these companies and organizations that will be affected by bigger ISPs collaborate with our institutions. How we access our education online will come at a high cost- a cost that most colleges can’t afford.

The Impacts on Higher Education...

Student Loans

The House Bill is getting rid of the Student Loan Interest Deduction. The Student Loan Deduction allows those earning an income between $65,000 to $80,000 (or couples earning up to $130,000) to have a tax deduction of up to $2,500 off their student loans. About 12 million Americans will be affected by The House Bill’s decision. Currently, the total outstanding student loan debt is over 1.4 trillion dollars (making up 7% of the 20 trillion dollars U.S. national debt). It takes the average bachelor’s degree holder 20+ years to pay off their loans, but expectedly longer with the Student Loan Interest Deduction eliminated.

Knowledge Comes At A Price

Student’s, teacher’s, and researcher’s access to the internet will become compromised with ISPs freedom to slow down bandwidths and traffic of other companies if FCC abandons net neutrality. ISPs will be able to charge consumers access to their fast and efficient networks vs. using slower internet access for free; work requiring access to knowledge and research will come at a price. Students and educators across the country use services like Amazon, Microsoft 365, and Google Apps at their colleges, which will most likely rise in price. To compensate for the money spent on these services, colleges and universities will have to raise tuition costs. The rise in tuition will hit families especially hard due to Trump eliminating the Student Loan Interest Deduction and tuition waivers.

Graduate Students

Tuition waivers will go from the opportunity to work at Universities in exchange for free tuition to being another income taxation. This will affect the 145,000 graduate students, 60% of which are STEM major, who rely on tuition waivers. This income taxation will result in either drastic decrease in enrolled Ph.D. and graduate students or increase in student loan debt. Graduate schools give students opportunities for career advancement, higher salary, and more career options. Tuition waivers are a big part of getting to experience these benefits because without it many cannot afford graduate school.

Quality of Education

Research, online exams, and video-streaming will become increasingly difficult and diminish the quality of education students receive with net neutrality gone.“Our research depends on having access to high-speed connection, and it will definitely impact us and all the partners that we’re working with that require high-speed access”, Zahadat said. ISPs will likely create internet packages much like TV packages, charging users for a bundle of internet services monthly, but those unable to afford these packages that include Google Scholar or Microsoft Academic Search will be left with limited resources.

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Higher education isn’t something that should come with consequences like debt traps or the sacrifice of efficient research. Higher education is what makes it possible for the younger generation to get the jobs they need to help save our economy. It’s important that we acknowledge what’s being taken from us because as the younger generation, these are things that will continue to affect us decades from now. The things that we let slip from under your nose, will ultimately shape the world we’re going to grow into. Whether your parents financially support your access to education or not, eventually we’re going to be the ones to pay the cost.

Cover Image Credit: Via Pxhere

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I'm The College Girl Who Likes Trump And Hates Feminism, And Living On A Liberal Campus Is Terrifying

I will not sugarcoat it: I don't feel safe on my own campus.

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I will get right to the point: being a conservative on a liberal college campus in 2019 downright terrifying.

At my university, I'm sure about 90% of the population, both students and faculty, are liberals. They are very outspoken, never afraid to express their views, opinions, and feelings in several ways. There are pride events for the LGBT community, a huge celebration for MLK day, and tons of events for feminists.

Then there's the minority: the conservatives. The realists. The "racists," "bigots," and "the heartless." I am everything the liberals absolutely despise.

I like Donald Trump because he puts America first and is actually getting things done. He wants to make our country a better place.

I want a wall to keep illegals out because I want my loved ones and me to be safe from any possible danger. As for those who are genuinely coming here for a better life, JUST FILL OUT THE PAPERWORK INSTEAD OF SNEAKING AROUND.

I'm pro-life; killing an infant at nine months is inhumane to me (and yet liberals say it's inhumane to keep illegals out…but let's not get into that right now).

I hate feminism. Why? Because modern feminism isn't even feminism. Slandering the male species and wanting to take down the patriarchy is just ridiculous.

I hate the media. I don't trust anyone in it. I think they are all biased, pathological liars. They purposely make our president look like the devil himself, leaving out anything good he does.

I will not sugarcoat it: I don't feel safe on my own campus.

I mostly keep my opinions to myself out of fear. When I end up getting one of my "twisted" and "uneducated" thoughts slip out, I cringe, waiting for the slap in the face.

Don't get me wrong; not everyone at my university is hostile to those who think differently than they do.

I've shared my opinions with some liberal students and professors before, and there was no bloodshed. Sure, we may not see eye to eye, but that's okay. That just means we can understand each other a little better.

Even though the handful of students and faculty I've talked to were able to swallow my opinions, I'm still overwhelmed by the thousands of other people on campus who may not be as kind and attentive. But you can't please everybody. That's just life.

Your school is supposed to be a safe environment where you can be yourself. Just because I think differently than the vast majority of my peers doesn't mean I deserve to be a target for ridicule. No one conservative does. Scratch that, NO ONE DOES.

I don't think I'll ever feel safe.

Not just on campus, but anywhere. This world is a cruel place. All I can do is stand firm in my beliefs and try to tolerate and listen to the clashing opinions of others. What else can I do?

All I can say is... listen. Be nice. Be respectful of other's opinions, even if you strongly disagree. Besides, we all do have one thing in common: the desire for a better country.

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Why I Love Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, not for political reasons

I don't want to talk about political beliefs necessarily when I talk about why I fucking love AOC.

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My political affiliation couldn't be kept a secret even if I tried. In the words of my mother, I've been a liberal since I popped out of the womb. So to me, the dramatic change in representation in the House was a huge win for me at this time in history.

While I sit on one side of the aisle because that's where I hear the most conversations about my closest political beliefs happening, I don't want to talk about political beliefs necessarily when I talk about why I fucking love Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

The first I'd ever heard of this powerful voice from New York was in a video being shared around on Facebook that gave me a strong sense of hope that I haven't felt in a while. She explains the nuance behind "identity politics" and the importance of complete representation in Congress in terms of race, class, and policy. Here was a young woman in my generation (or just outside of it) running for Congress because she knew there was work to be done, not because she knew she would win, or because of some larger force paying her to win, or because she comes from a family of politicians. She ran because she was passionate and because she works to understand her district and represent them in ways that give her district a matched fight with revolving-door politicians who know how to play the game.

This woman, to me, represents accessibility into politics for Americans. When I first started listening to politicians and presidents talk on TV, I remember listening to Obama speak my freshman year of high school (maybe for a state of the union address?) and I asked my mom what a lot of words meant. I learned what poverty, immigration, economic policy, taxes, the middle-class, and more were. She had answers for some but not all of my questions, and then I asked why they felt the need to use such big, intimidating words? Weren't they supposed to represent the country, who to my understanding, probably didn't know what all of these words meant if my own mother didn't? (Moms know everything.)

I didn't want to be left behind in a country that made decisions based on Harvard graduate levels of thinking when most of us were in fact, not Harvard graduates. I was aware when Obama used words I had on a vocabulary test the week before, and I was aware that my honors class was strikingly different from my friends' general education English classes, and that our entire high school was years ahead of some less privileged schools 30-minutes away. But all of us, no matter how politically accessible our situations were or not, were to be represented by a man using these words.

AOC is progressive (in a non-political sense) for Americans because she uses rhetoric and tools to educate Americans instead of persuading or intimidating them to think that she just knows best. She's a politician, yes, so of course she uses persuasive techniques to get policy she believes in to pass so she can do her job as a legislator. But have you seen her Instagram stories or heard her speak in interviews?

Her style of leadership involves a refreshing level of transparency and group participation. I feel like I'm allowed to ask questions about what happens in Washington D.C., and about what another congressperson meant when they said ______. She answers questions like these online to her followers, some of which are her represented correspondents, and some of which are people outside of her district just desperate to expose themselves to any congressperson willing to talk to them on their level. Her flow inspires the average American to listen and checks the confident incumbent from underestimating just how much she knows.

Not all of us are fortunate enough to afford college. Not all of us are fortunate enough to come from a community where high schools prepared and primed us for college-level vocabulary filled conversations. Some of us have to accept politics as a realm with which we can never be involved, heard, or interactive. A.O.C. is what's changing this mentality. 43% of adults living in poverty function at low literacy rates. If they can't understand political rhetoric, how will they be able to democratically participate? Politicians spend so much time talking about poverty rates and how they want to move every family into a middle-class lifestyle, but they don't alter their political approach to invite the poverty-stricken or under-educated Americans into their conversations. AOC does this.

She spends time every night explaining whatever her followers have questions about in full detail. She actually uses up-to-date technology and social media to communicate with Americans, making older senators look lazy or technologically incompetent for not engaging with their community as often or as explicitly. Not to mention, every video I've ever seen produced by her or her team (including her Instagram stories) have closed-captions already edited in. She considers every American to be her audience before speaking, and the fact that what she's doing feels new and refreshing to me suggests just how badly we need her, and more people like her, in politics today.

This isn't even because of her understanding that literacy affects voting--in the original video I saw of her, she understands that the people she represents were flat-out not being addressed in politics. "People aren't voting because no one is speaking to them." Truly and meaningfully, directly and honestly.

She's America's teacher, a representative of why mentorship on all levels is important, and to me, what America would look like if our politicians were not only our representatives, but our educators, our mentors, and our teammates.

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