Middle class takes another hit

Your news item of December 10 tells us that the University of Virginia is increasing tuition fees in the coming year to $13,682 for Virginia students, and $44,724 for out-of-state students, in the College of Arts and Sciences and the Curry School of Education.

Most of us are generally aware of rising college costs, but these figures are stunning. In the 1940s, my out-of-state fees were less than one-fiftieth of the new cost, and my colleagues from Virginia paid less than one-hundredth of the amount they will soon be charged. Even when my son attended George Mason University, in the late 1970s, his costs had risen little more than 10% above mine.

Inflation can account for only a small part of the rise in costs.   Incompetence among the state and local officials controlling the University’s budget would hardly account for such monumental increases. No, the culprit is crass neglect and indifference to the hardships that such increases place upon families of middle and lower income. This is further evidence of the ongoing impoverishment of the middle class that has been evident as a result of Republican policies since the mid-1980s. Only the elite can afford the education that opens the doors to their own ranks.

Situations like this had much to do with the populist waves that dominated the 2016 election. Virginia then held firm as the only “blue” state in the Southeast, but we cannot be sure that this will continue in the face of such aggravations as these tuition costs.


Note: This letter was published in the Waynesboro NEWS VIRGINIAN on December 17, 2017.