Readers React: Tuition is outrageous. That doesn’t mean college should be free

Measles Outbreak at UCLA in Los Angeles, USA - 25 Apr 2019
Students walk on the UCLA campus in Westwood on April 25, 2018.
(Etienne Laurent / EPA-EFE/REX)

To the editor: Columnist George Skelton couldn’t be more wrong in advocating for “free” tuition at California’s public universities. America was founded and continues to thrive on our capitalist system, where you work hard and pay your own way for things like college tuition.

We have a lot of community colleges that once were priced at reasonable rates. Now, the costs of attending community college and universities are almost outrageous.

Still, a degree from a California State University or a University of California campus means something significant to prospective employers. Students should pay a price for that, as they will probably get the value at the good job they have later.

It’s simple: Pay the price, do the work and get the benefit. Student loans are available to virtually anyone (probably too widely available).


William Durkee, Arcadia


To the editor: In the 1950s, there was no undergraduate tuition at UC campuses. At UCLA, there was an “incidental fee,” which included student health services, and which was about $36 per semester while I was there as an engineering student.

I lived with my mother — my father died of cancer before my 4th birthday — and commuted until my last year, when I found a very old rental apartment that I shared with three friends.


I once had a conversation with Gene Block, the current chancellor, telling him that I don’t think I could have gone to UCLA had there been tuition. He disagreed, pointing out the possibilities of grants and loans, and perhaps he’s right. Nevertheless, I’d like to think that the graduating classes of those years have contributed much more back to California, and to the country, than the cost of their educations.

As Skelton points out in his article, “free tuition” does not cover books, food, clothing, housing and transportation. I worked every summer while in school to cover most of that.

Paul Cooley, Culver City

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