Thursday, February 9, 2012


Are you like me and wish there was a way we could get our college degrees and not have to pay an outrageously expensive tuition while we’re doing it or graduate saddled with thousands of dollars in debt? Students, parents, educators, and even our President, are alarmed by how unaffordable a college education is becoming for average Americans, but no one seems to have offered any effective solutions, evident by the fact that tuition costs continue to skyrocket. However, a group of innovative students from the University of California may have the answer we’ve all been looking for.

Chris LoCascio, a junior at UC Riverside, and a couple of his peers have a plan that will allow people to go to college for free. The only catch is students would have to agree to pay 5% of their income for 20 years after they graduate.

Like most other creative products, their ingenuity came out of need, the group’s need to address the tuition problem plaguing students at UC. After a roughly 18% tuition increase at their university, LoCascio as well as other members of the student body, were fed up with the financial toll that getting a degree had on college students. These students, with LoCascio at their head, formed the group FixUC to combat the rising cost of a college education. Instead of trying to make concessions within the current system of tuition, they came up with an idea to eliminate paying upfront tuition all together. Explaining the impetus for their proposal, LoCascio said, “We’re distraught with the lack of solutions that were being put forward.”

LoCascio, editor-in-chief of the university’s paper as well as the president of FixUC, first tried to address the tuition hikes by writing a number of editorials that expressed the students’ concerns regarding the increasing price of a UC education. It was only after publishing numerous articles that went practically ignored that LoCascio and the rest of the editorial board started thinking outside-of-the-box. So, they constructed a plan to drastically change their university if approved.

This plan to get rid of upfront tuition isn’t simply an abstract dream or barely-thought out idea. The group has drafted an actual proposal, set up petitions asking people to support their cause, created a website to educate others, and made the financial calculations to see what effect it will have on the university’s finaces. They even met with the UC’s President to discuss whether it’s a viable option for the university, and though it is unsure whether or not their proposal will be implemented; the President seems to be open to the idea. "It is a very appealing way to make sure that the middle class continues to have access to higher education," said Mark Yudof, UC’s president. He noted, however, that in it’s current form, he doesn’t believe the proposal is workable.

By allowing students to get their degrees for free, as long as they promise to pay a percent of their salary for a set time after graduating, students are basically getting an interest-free loan. One of the problems with the current method of paying for college is that graduating students start out their “adult-lives” in debt and then struggle to find the employment necessary to pay off the debt, as well as the amassed interest. With this idea, students would only be responsible for paying the university once they were able, aka employed. It would also let students that cannot afford college to begin with, or are too scared to take out a loan to do so, to get a college degree and then pay it off once they graduate. But for their plan to become a reality, the proposal needs backing from the university official and the rest of the student body.

By providing a useful alternative to the obviously flawed system we currently have, this proposal is certainly an imaginative idea, one with groundbreaking potential. Though it may never be implemented at UC, let alone at other universities, this radical solution could feasibly solve the problem troubling thousands of students, such as myself, throughout the nation if given a chance.

To learn more about FixUC’s efforts and to see the actual proposal, visit


  1. This is truly a creative and innovative way to solve the problem plaguing college students around the country. The students who started Fix UC have definitely come up with a novel and appropriate way to make college more affordable for students. Although I know it is still in a preliminary stage, I am curious to find out how they plan to determine just how long or how much money each student their own unique situations will have to pay in their lifetime. Sure, it would be easy for a student who has a stable, well-paying job their entire life to contribute that 5% for 20 years, but what about students who end up making less money? Or those students who may need to switch career paths? Or become stay-at-home mothers or fathers? It may be more difficult to assess their contribution, and assess whether or not it is possible to stop and start payments throughout their lifetimes. That may be part of the reason why their idea has not yet been implemented or needs more revisions. If it is the case that there are stopping and starting points for some students, it would be necessary for UC to truly understand their financial situation before agreeing to implementing such a program. All in all though, this is an excellent starting point for finding a solution to the problem of tuition. I think if a plan is worked out, obtaining a college degree will be much more accessible for people burdened by tuition costs. And, with the frequency at which Loyola raises its tuition, perhaps we could start a Fix LUC group on campus!

  2. While I think this has the potential to be a great way to finance an education, I worry about the actual logistics behind it. Universities and colleges still need adequate funding to operate each year, so who is going to provide the funding to provide these "interest free loans" until students graduate and begin to pay the institutions back? Also I wonder if this idea has the potential to financially sink universities whose graduates are not able to get jobs (and then thus are not contributing 5% back to pay off their educations). One final thing I wonder about is why the planned repayment it set at a standard 5% for 20 years. Someone working in a high salary position may "pay off" their education well before the 20 year mark if 5% is annually taken from their salary. Is it fair that they will end up paying significantly more than someone who possibly works in the non-profit sector and may hardly contribute anything at all each year due to their low salary? The opportunity to receive an education should be open to everyone no matter their socioeconomic status, but every student should only be responsible for paying for their own (and their children's) educations. It is not fair, in my opinion, that those who make more money would be potentially "taxed" until the end of twenty years if their salary was high enough to pay off their actual education before the twenty year mark... Still, the cost of a college education is spiraling out of control in the United States and something needs to be done to keep such an education open to anyone who desires it. I applaud these students for trying to do something to confront this very important issue.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.