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First Person: San Leandro College Student Says Her Generation Sees School Debt Ahead

Angela Marrujo shares her story in response to a Patch story on college debt.

(After a recent Patch article about , San Leandro resident Angela Marrujo joined a discussion on our Facebook page. It led her to write this lightly edited first person account of what she and her college-educated peers can anticipate.)

I'm not really sure where to begin, but I guess I'll just describe my experience at San Francisco State University so far.

I graduated from San Leandro High in 2009 and am currently a Junior and in my third year at San Francsico State University.

In my first semester, getting classes wasn't too difficult, and I was able to immediately start getting my general education requirements out of the way.

I was, however, surprised by how expensive tuition was, and disappointed that when I got back the results of my Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). I was told that my parents made too much for me to qualify for grants.

The one loan I qualified for and accepted didn't even fully cover the cost of tuition and I had to come up with $600 out of pocket to pay it off. I then had to take out a second loan to be able to continue to afford to go to school.

I am currently relying on a subsidized and unsubsidized government loan to go to school, and owe SFSU about $18,000.

The cost of attendance isn't just in the tuition. Books are outrageously priced for college students and unjustifiably so in my opinion.

Last semester I spent over $500 in books. This semester I spent around $300,  and previous semesters books have ranged between $300 to $400.

What's worse is that when you go back to the SFSU bookstore to sell your books at the end of the semester, you're given a fraction of what you paid for them. Last semester's return was the worst: I got about $60 dollars back from a $500 investment. That's a little more than 10% back from what I shelled out.

Don't get me wrong, I'm grateful for any little bit to help, but come on!

Tuition has risen substantially due to all of the fee hikes the state has imposed on Univeristy of California and California State University campuses.

Usually at the beginning of my semester when my tuition is paid for, I'll get a check from SFSU for the extra balance of my loans that wasn't needed, and I'll use that money to pay for my books.

Each year the remaining amount I get back continues to shrink as the cost of tuition and fees go up and I worry that it's going to reach a point where my loans won't cover the costs anymore. I'm already being supported by two loans, I don't want to take out a third. That would be ridiculous.

I work part-time which helps a bit. I make about $300 to $400 dollars a month if I'm lucky. I commute to school daily on BART, which is $9 a day, five days a week. That's roughly $180 dollars a month on commuting alone.

Eve so, I'm lucky to live at home, which cuts down on what I'd be spending on rent, food, utilities and etcetera if I were living alone or with roommates

The budget cuts on CSU and UC schools have affected how many classes are available for enrollment every semester. Classes needed to satisfy GE requirements are snatched up instantly during registration times, and classes needed for your major are always in high demand: whether or not you get into them has turned into a matter of chance.

This in turn causes you to have to wait until the next semester to take what you need which in turn extends the amount of time needed to complete your degree. The longer it takes the more you owe in tuition.

It's a vicious cycle that seems never ending and it's frustrating when SFSU says you need certain classes to graduate and they don't have the resources to provide enough of them.

That's a sample of what my experience has been so far with college and SFSU.

I'm sure there's more I could say, I just didn't want to overwhelm you with too much info

Larry Smith November 24, 2011 at 12:01 AM
True, and even worse, colleges are now required to teach high school remedial classes because too many high school teachers are passing the buck on learning . When a student fails, there is a complete lack of commitment on high school teachers and 'administrators' to correct the problem, and instead they graduate the dummies that are now sapping away billions of tax-payer dollars on remedial education; which I believe is part of the educational complexes plan to foster growth in their professional unions. Chabot College recently offered one section each of Italian and Japanese language classes BUT they offered nearly eighty (80) sections of remedial English and/or English as a Second Language. Obviously,bright, literate high school graduates are being greatly short-changed at the expense of people who are for the most part being baby-sat by a system that is helping them receive college loans to take classes that benefit no one except the colleges who are receiving the loan monies in the form of tuition, fees, or overpriced text books. Then they graduate to find themselves somewhat challenged to locate a job that doesn't have food-server or barrista at Starbucks in their title. That is why we have so many administrators in college. We need them to scam all the students into those great loans that the students will spend a great portion of their lives paying back.
ken November 24, 2011 at 12:26 AM
Larry..Are College Prep level classes even a factor in High Schools these days?
Milan Moravec November 24, 2011 at 11:32 PM
University of California campus chancellors vet campus police protocols. UCPD report to chancellors and take direction from their chancellor. UC Berkeley Chancellor Birgeneau and UC Davis Chancellor are in derelection of their duties. UC Berkeley Chancellor Birgeneau and UC Davis Chancellor need to quit or be fired for permitting the brutal outrage on students protesting tuition increases and student debt Opinions? Email the UC Board of Regents marsha.kelman@ucop.edu
Tom Abate November 27, 2011 at 03:17 AM
Thank you for joining the discussion. We'll hear at least one more time from Angela, on the subject of tuition increases.
Milan Moravec November 27, 2011 at 10:51 PM
Brutal use of batons by UC Bekeley Chancellor Birgeneau on his students protesting increases in tuition. Fire, retire Cal Chancellor Birgeneau.

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