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'The Walking Debt' Protest Potential Tuition Hike For The Cal State System

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Students from across the Cal State University system gathered in downtown Long Beach on Tuesday and donned zombie makeup to protest a potential tuition hike.Calling themselves "The Walking Debt," demonstrators showed up early to rally as the Cal State University Board of Trustees met at Chancellor Timothy P. White's office on Tuesday. Outside of White's office, the protest organized by Students for Quality Education had one tombstone for each of the system's 23 campuses, and the Walking Debt chanted "Students not customers!" and "The more we pay, the longer we stay!"

"We're out here telling them this is not acceptable," protestor Juliana Nascimento told LAist. "Any increase now is already too much."

Nascimento, who had been in downtown Long Beach since 5 a.m., graduated from Cal State L.A. in 2014. Because she is undocumented, Nascimento was unable to get student loans and took 10 years to earn her degree. So while she says she has a "weird kind of privilege" to not be stuck with student debt, Nascimento said it was a burden to have to go to school on-and-off over the course of those 10 years while she saved money.

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"Whose university? OUR UNIVERSITY!"

While they may not vote on the tuition hike until March, according to the Long Beach Press-Telegram, the Board is already considering a $270 increase to undergraduate fees for the CSU system.

From 2002 to 2011, statewide tuition fees went up a staggering 283% to $5,472. According to the L.A. Times, the CSU system pledged to not raise tuition fees until 2017 in exchange for more state funding. The propose tuition hike would increase each student's burden by 5%.

Earlier this year a study commissioned by CSU found that of the 460,000 students in their system, 8% were homeless and 21% were food insecure.

And while President-elect Donald Trump's campaign did not run primarily a platform of student debt reform, he proposed a plan at a speech in October that the Washington Post of all outlets hailed as "the most liberal student loan repayment plan since the inception of the federal financial aid program." (Conservative blog RedState bemoaned it as "a liberal's dream").

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In short, Trump proposes capping repayment at 12.5% of income and debt forgiveness after 15 years. He has also (vaguely) said he plans on incentivizing colleges to cut costs.

Students for Quality Education will continue their protest on Wednesday in Long Beach. For more information, check out the Facebook invite.