So what if it’s not their fault!

I never thought I would start a sentence this way — harking the lectures from my parents — but here goes:

I remember when life was simpler — and cheaper.

The cost for school lunch was 75 cents. A one-way bus fare was just a quarter. And tuition at the University of Hawaii at Manoa didn’t require a student loan.

In-state, full-time undergraduate students now pay $3,792 per semester in tuition. That’s more than $7,500 a year — a steal when you consider tuition elsewhere can cost upwards of $40,000 annually.

But that cost will likely go up next fall, should a proposal to the Board of Regents pass. The hike will be a reaction to possibly budget cuts by the state, which is trying to close a two-year, $1.3 billion budget deficit.

Should the proposal go through, students will pay $4,200 per semester — which doesn’t include the $314 per semester students pay in fees or the rising cost of books, computers and other expenses. (Don’t get me started on rent!)

Seems a bit unfair, if you ask me, to burden the state’s fiscal problems on students trying to get an education in order to make a go at this thing called life. Today’s economic woes are not their fault. In fact, these young people are the ones actually stimulating our economy, buying iPad 2s, filling their gas tanks with overpriced oil, and spending more on cell phone data plans than groceries a month.

And what are these students getting for the higher tuition cost? A better education? Updated textbooks? High-tech learning environments? Smaller classes? More classes? Better shot at getting a job after graduation?

I wonder.