A Student Proposal Could Make a University of California Education Affordable Once Again

Students would be required to pay back 5 percent of their income for 20 years.

Back in the golden days of the 1960s and 1970s, students could attend one of the 10 University of California campuses for almost nothing. They graduated without crippling debt, enabling them to buy homes, start families, and live the California dream.

Today, the system is balancing its budgets on out-of-state tuition dollars, and students are so angry about the spiraling cost of attending a UC school that they've marched on freeways and occupied meetings of the Board of Regents. But one group of students, Fix UC, is moving beyond protest signs, presenting a plan to the Regents that might help solve the Golden State's higher-education fiscal crisis.

Under the Fix UC proposal, students would pay nothing upfront to attend any University of California campus. They'd go through four years of school without having to worry about coming up with the next tuition payment or how to pay for housing, enabling them to focus solely on their studies.

After graduation, students would be required to pay back 5 percent of their income for 20 years. If a graduate lost her job or went through a patch of underemployment, her repayment amount would adjust accordingly. Graduates who stayed in California to work, thus contributing to the state's tax base, would pay back half a percent less. Those who worked in the public sector—like school teachers—would see another 1 percent chopped off their bill. Out-of-state and international students would be required to pay back 6 percent of their income.

The proposal suggests the state gradually adopt the model, starting with a small group of students whose entire cost of attending a UC is already covered. Repayments would be enforced by a new office with the power to confiscate graduates' income tax returns if they didn't make payments.

At a recent Regents meeting, University of California president Mark G. Yudof said he was impressed with the proposal and that the regents "think the ideas are constructive." And according to the number-crunchers at Business Week, the idea is feasible. Current in-state tuition at UC San Diego is about $52,936. An engineering graduate, the magazine determined, earns a starting salary of about $55,000. That means 20 years of Fix UC payments would equal out to about one year's salary—a pretty affordable deal, especially considering the payments would be interest-free.

The hitch is that the cost of college has been rising faster than inflation, meaning that the $52,936 would cost the state $98,814 at a conservative 3.18 percent inflation rate. That would be fine if graduates' salaries also were rising with inflation, but because that's not currently happening, it'd be tough to make the system financially viable for the state.

The University of California campuses are still reeling from $650 million in cuts this year, and Governor Jerry Brown says more are on deck in 2012—which will cause even more tuition increases. The days of a completely free higher education may be long gone, and the Fix UC plan may not be the perfect solution, but it's refreshing to see some real brainstorming on how to make college affordable once again.

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The problem with American Sign Language (ASL) is that over 500,000 people in the U.S. use it, but the country has over 330 million people.

So for those with hearing loss, the chances of coming into contact with someone who uses the language are rare. Especially outside of the deaf community.

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Looking back, the year 1995 seems like such an innocent time. America was in the midst of its longest streak of peace and prosperity. September 11, 2001 was six years away, and the internet didn't seem like much more than a passing fad.

Twenty-four years ago, 18 million U.S. homes had modem-equipped computers, 7 million more than the year before. Most logged in through America Online where they got their email or communicated with random strangers in chat rooms.

According to a Pew Research study that year, only 32% of those who go online say they would miss it "a lot" if no longer available.

Imagine what those poll numbers would look like if the question was asked today.

RELATED: Bill and Melinda Gates had a surprising answer when asked about a 70 percent tax on the wealthiest Americans

"Few see online activities as essential to them, and no single online feature, with the exception of E-Mail, is used with any regularity," the Pew article said. "Consumers have yet to begin purchasing goods and services online, and there is little indication that online news features are changing traditional news consumption patterns."

"Late Night" host David Letterman had Microsoft founder and, at that time the richest man in the world, on his show for an interview in '95 to discuss the "the big new thing."

During the interview Letterman chided Gates about the usefulness of the new technology, comparing it to radio and tape recorders.

Gates seems excited by the internet because it will soon allow people to listen to a baseball game on their computer. To which Letterman smugly replies, "Does radio ring a bell?" to laughter from the crowd.

But Gates presses Letterman saying that the new technology allows you to listen to the game "whenever you want," to which Letterman responds, "Do tape recorders ring a bell?"

Gates then tells Letterman he can keep up with the latest in his favorite hobbies such as cigar smoking or race cars through the internet. Letterman shuts him down saying that he reads about his interests in magazines.

RELATED: Bill Gates has five books he thinks you should read this summer.

The discussion ends with the two laughing over meeting like-minded people in "troubled loner chat room on the internet."

The clip brings to mind a 1994 segment on "The Today Show" where host Bryant Gumbel and Katie Couric have a similar discussion.

"What is internet anyway?" an exasperated Gumball asks. "What do you write to it like mail?"

"It's a computer billboard but it's nationwide and it's several universities all joined together and it's getting bigger and bigger all the time," a producer explains from off-stage.

Photo by Li-An Lim on Unsplash

The future generations will have to live on this Earth for years to come, and, not surprisingly, they're very concerned about the fate of our planet. We've seen a rise in youth activists, such as Greta Thunberg, who are raising awareness for climate change. A recent survey indicates that those efforts are working, as more and more Americans (especially young Americans) feel concerned about climate change.

A new CBS News poll found that 70% of Americans between 18 and 29 feel climate change is a crisis or a serious problem, while 58% of Americans over the age of 65 share those beliefs. Additionally, younger generations are more likely to feel like it's their personal responsibility to address climate change, as well as think that transitioning to 100% renewable energy is viable. Overall, 25% of Americans feel that climate change is a "crisis," and 35% feel it is a "serious problem." 10% of Americans said they think climate change is a minor problem, and 16% of Americans feel it is not a problem that worries them.

The poll found that concern for the environment isn't a partisan issue – or at least when it comes to younger generations. Two-thirds of Republicans under the age of 45 feel that addressing climate change is their duty, sentiments shared by only 38% of Republicans over the age of 45.

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