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One of the reasons I applied to Iowa State University almost two years ago was because of affordability. Like many students, I considered the high quality of education at Iowa State versus the cost of my attendance. In the end, the quality outweighed the cost and I chose to be a Cyclone. Now more than ever, this outcome is under threat by the budget decisions being taken by our state legislators.

I do not intend to advocate for myself, but rather to voice the concerns of students who would hurt due to continued high increases in tuition. I want to echo the worries of students who see ISU as their only option and might not see this institution as an option at all after more cuts from the state government. And lastly, for prospective students who are working hard to study engineering, life sciences and other majors at a top-notch university, but might see their goal as a distant pipe dream due to lessening interest by our elected officials in funding public education. All these situations are unacceptable by any metric, especially in a state that increasingly keeps falling behind in funding higher education.

It is time that legislators in this state and beyond stop thinking of higher education as something that is good to have and more as a need. Public institutions like Iowa State University empower youth with knowledge, skills and experiences to be better citizens, harder workers and leaders of the next generation.

It is easy to get caught up in the political give-and-take of the time and not think beyond the next election, but that is no excuse. Legislators need not only think of today’s workforce, but also tomorrow’s. They can’t only think of the short-term benefits to the state in 2018, but also of the gains in 2019, 2020, 2021 and so on. They can’t just make promises of commitment to public education, they need to actually act on them.

Facing a cut of $6.9 million, the Board of Regents might have no alternative than to succumb to another substantial increase in tuition during the summer. To my friends and fellow Cyclones, I ask you to raise your voices as I and many others have done. Let your legislators know that they will be held accountable for short sighted, harmful decisions to your education, and let them know what Iowa State means to you.

At the end of the day, this is not just about a degree, but rather a promise that the state made to us to provide us with affordable, quality education. Let your legislators know that they are failing in keeping their promise. I know I will.

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