College? Not Unless You’re Rich
Liza Featherstone’s “Out of Reach: Is College Only for the Rich?” [June 29] spoke to me in a very personal way. I will soon turn 21, but due to illness I have completed only one year’s worth of credits for my BA. I will have to spend the next fourteen months working and saving in order to afford to return to college in the fall of 2010. I am so frustrated by my inability to afford higher education, which I believe is a vital part of our democracy and should be accessible to all citizens. Until everyone has access to college, our country will not break down the barrier between the wealthy and the underprivileged.
I graduated from Brooklyn College when it was free. Otherwise, my parents could not have afforded to send me to college. That has made all the difference in my life, enabling me to get a well-paying job and continue to graduate school rather than having to resort to welfare when my husband left me with a 2-year-old and pregnant.
My father, the first in his family to attend college, graduated from City College at the height of the Depression. When CUNY decided to charge tuition, I wrote a letter in opposition. They told me that since middle-class students were attending free, poor taxpayers were subsidizing them; it would be more equitable to charge tuition, which the middle class could afford, and provide scholarship aid to poorer students. Predictably, tuition continued to increase and scholarship aid declined. If New York City could provide free, quality higher education during the Great Depression, surely it is time to return to that practice now.
RUTH A. BRANDWEIN, PhD
Liza Featherstone notes that students are largely resigned to increased college costs. Others have observed a similar quiescence on the part of labor. It looks like many of us still hold ourselves responsible for success or lack thereof. The Horatio Alger myth was alive in the Great Depression, but so were street actions and sit-down strikes. It was popular militancy, after all, that enabled FDR to push through the progressive legislation of the mid-1930s. Americans, especially students, should take to the streets.