Sunday, October 12, 2008

When did you start to feel the pinch?

About a year ago, I noticed the portion sizes of some of my staple goods were starting to shrink. It started with those delightful sweets at Starbucks getting cut in half - fine I don't need those empty calories anyways. My mother shared that the same thing happened to candy bars in the 1970s. Then I noticed portion sizes at resteraunts getting smaller. Fine - Americans need some help in the will power department as well. But then came the day that I noticed my tampons were now 24 to a box instead of the usual 36 despite being the same price! That's when I knew things were starting to get bad. My budget continues to get tighter as I pay more for my necessities. It makes everyone take another look at what they consider a necessity.

Relatively speaking, if things get bad enough education can seem like a luxury. This week, I got an inevitable email from my graduate school about the state budget. I braced myself for a tuition increase.
On Thursday, Oct 9th, the Governor released budget information on reductions for the current budget year (FY 2009). [My university] will experience a 7% budget reduction, or $9.8 million. Units have submitted budget reduction plans and will be notified by the end of next week regarding the specific amount of their unit cuts. The Governor also announced a delay of the previously planned 2% salary increase for state employees until July 1, 2009. The current budget reduction cannot be addressed through an additional tuition increase this year or through any reductions in financial aid. At this level of budget reduction [my university] was not considering either action.

Apparently, things are bad, but at least not bad enough to raise tuition mid-school year. With property values flailing, state and local governments have to be feeling the pinch. Technically, this graduate degree is not a necessity, but to me it is. Thankfully, I already have school loans for this year. What about next year? I wonder how many people will have to cut the necessity of education due an increasingly tight budget, steep tuition, and an unsure credit market. What will happen to the student loan market?

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