06/07/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

The Cost of Neglecting Higher Education

I am a product of the public school system. I went to college at a public institution and every year, I paid a little more than I did the year before. There's that old adage that education costs a lot, but at least no one can ever take it from you. What meaning does that adage have when education is only available to those who can afford it?

There's a myriad of problems facing a younger generation that is now heading out into the world as adults. We've got climate change, a growing debt, Jersey Shore and a dwindling job market. I challenge you to, as a friend once did to me, give me one problem the United States is facing that cannot be solved with smarter people.

The University of Colorado just implemented a 9 percent hike on tuition.

According to the Denver Post, "CU raised its in-state tuition 14.6 percent for the 2007-08 school year and 9.3 percent for the 2008-09 school year." Right now, the Regents are lobbying for a bill that would allow them to raise tuition without state approval, or along state guided formulas. While this doesn't necessarily make CU a private school, it does take the university in an unsettling direction. It does nothing to actually solve the budget crisis. CU is expected to come up $89.3 million dollars short of where it needs to be.

One important thing to remember is that CU is not the only state-funded (if you can call it that) university in Colorado. There are many smaller universities and schools that may be faced with closing or raising tuition even more, blocking a huge group of students from being able to attend them.

Now, you might be asking yourself, "Well, Shad...what do you propose we do, then?" The solutions aren't easy, but they're necessary. What cannot be sacrificed are departments. The humanities are an important aspect of education, and studying the world around us. The same can be said for business schools. The Denver Daily News reported that, "Higher education is the only large part of the state budget that isn't protected by the constitution or the federal government, leading Gov. Bill Ritter ... to slash $145 million from the department in the proposed 2010-11 state budget."

One solution is to protect higher education funding with a constitutional amendment. K-12 is protected, so why not higher education? If Colorado is serious about finding solutions, restructuring TABOR and protecting higher education should be the number one concern.

The fundamental argument though, that I still challenge anyone to counter, stems from a question that a friend asked me once: What problem can't be solved by having a more educated populace? With a more educated populace, we could attempt to reverse global warming, give people an education that is necessary in today's job market and cancel "Jersey Shore," forever. The future of the country depends on it.

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