CalArts Uproar and the College Cost Crisis

California Institute of Art, otherwise known as CalArts, recently announced a 2-4% rise in annual tuition fees after the 2019 and 2020 academic years. For students of the school, this means paying upwards of $50,000 per year in order to attend.

This inflation of prices has caused uproar amongst students of the prestigious school. In protests, many students both created a petition for change and walked out during classes. According to Art & Education, the petition states, “We understand there are outside factors that affect these decisions at a national and systemic level, but the current model of this institution is not sustainable and remains a problem that directly affects us and our future… We are the institute’s largest funders and it is imperative that we have a seat at the table.” The petition goes on to say, “for many of us, this tuition increase is the difference between continuing our studies and having to leave CalArts.”

This outrage towards the excessive tuition fees has not only sparked discussion amongst CalArt’s students, but on social media as well. Many debated the exploitative college fees in America, and the racking debt placed on many American students after higher education. Many of these debts range within the thousands to tens or even hundreds of thousands, a large sum to pay back before you’re even considered a working adult.  

Research shows that this issue is solely an American one. Top international art schools, such as the Canadian universities Emily Carr & OCAD have a significantly lower tuition rate. Emily Carr University, for example, has an annual tuition fee of $5,395.48 USD, and OCAD has an annual tuition fee of $4,565.71 USD for domestic students and $1,1931.40 USD for international students.

These numbers show it is considerably cheaper to get higher education internationally than it is to stay in the US. As reported by Inside Higher Ed, “Tuition and fees increased by less than 2 percent between 2016-17 and 2017-18.” The article continues with, “increases in colleges’ net prices aren’t just numbers on paper. They drive questions about the affordability of higher education for many families. They cause some to question the value of attending a college or university.”

The negatives concerning the increase of college tuition fees outweigh anything that may come from it. Exorbitant prices are closing doors for those who can’t afford the steadily rising tuition, alienating more and more new students from getting a college education, forcing many to go internationally to afford higher education, and pushing thousands of dollars of debt onto students who can’t possibly pay it back.