Financial issues cause for action from students

Temple’s budget cuts could not be avoided, but students are advised to take action and educate themselves on ways to alleviate the financial burden.

After sitting on hold for two hours with Student Financial Services, listening to the sweet sounds of Beethoven’s symphony on WRTI, I finally snapped. With the start of the Fall 2011 semester less than two weeks away, it was no surprise SFS was completely overwhelmed counseling new and returning students. But a two-hour hold?

As if the frustration of waiting to speak with a representative only to get them on the phone for five minutes wasn’t enough, the anxiety only worsened. Add the financial burden of tuition plus managing work, school and family, and I would be lucky if this debt would be paid off by the time my grandchildren send their children to school.

The financial issues impacting non-traditional students are no different than those students entering their first year of college. Following Gov. Tom Corbett’s plan to cut higher education funding, it’s clear that decreased support throughout the university has everyone on edge. Those affected by the cuts will not only see less money in their wallets, but will also lose out on essential programs,  making it even more difficult for those who can least afford college.

Granted, the decrease in Temple appropriations of 19 percent is absolutely better than the proposed 50 percent decrease, but it’s still a balancing act of robbing Peter to pay Paul.

“I am piling on loans,” said Colin Saltry, Temple Student Government student body president.

Temple University employees are getting hit, too.  According to an announcement by university  President Ann Weaver Hart in April, other cuts would include salary freezes for non-union professionals, a university hiring freeze with certain exceptions, a restriction on travel and a review to possibly consolidate administrative positions.

These particular cuts are going to reveal some overworked and underpaid employees, paired with a classroom full of students who are paying more money for a higher education to receive fewer resources.

Tuition for in-state students will increase $1,172 from $11,834 to $13,006 in the fall, while out-of-state students will see an increase from $21,662 to $22,832; a difference of $1,170.

Barbara Mattleman, director of PhillyGoes2College said, “Students will have to be more aggressive in trying to secure scholarships and might consider bringing students together to advocate for maintaining Pell Grants. With national retreat from education funding, it’s going to be a tough time.”

Kimberly Stephens, director of education partnership and services at Graduate! Philadelphia, whose mission is to increase the number of adults with college degrees in the greater Philadelphia region, encouraged students to educate and understand their financial obligation to their institution.

“Educating yourself on this topic is critical. In these financially difficult times, students have to look at the long-term,” Stephens said. “The benefits of having an education far outweigh those that don’t. Be knowledgeable and armed with making the appropriate decisions.”

We could complain until our faces turn blue, and there still may never be one solution to conquering this whole new meaning of higher education . . . literally. We all have circumstances in life that change our plans for better or for worse.  However, circumstances can be modified; they are just something to consider when determining a course of action, but they are not the be all and end all. The only thing we can do is try and make the best of a very difficult circumstance.

Haniyyah Sharpe can be reached at haniyyah.sharpe@temple.edu.

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