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The fight for tuition affordability

Swings twirled around, students scrambled through blow up obstacle courses and giant hamster balls, with students inside, raced down a track as part of the Student Association’s Fall Fest.

As the carnival spanned the length and width of The Quad, students gathered around the flagpole to hear Rep. Steven J. Israel and Democratic Assemblywoman Grace Meng speak about education affordability.

Elizabeth Hendrey, chief operating officer at Queens College, cited the rising costs of college as a major concern.

“Keep tuition affordable” — a mantra repeated on signs held by student attendees — really summed up the legislators’ priorities, Meng said.

Israel — who has been the U.S. representative for New York’s 2nd congressional district since 2001 — said up until now, the fight for affordable education has been a lonely one for him, but with Meng running for Congress, that will no longer be the case.

“She can join me in fighting those battles,” Israel said, as students behind him jousted on an inflatable carnival stand on The Quad.

The fundamental issue, according to Israel, is restoring and rebuilding a middle class. Israel himself has been paying $580 a month in college loans since one of his daughters graduated in 2011.

Aisha Tahir, freshman, attended because of her concern that people are backing out of receiving an education in light of the tough economy.

“It [tuition] is constantly increasing and in the CUNY spirit, it should stay at an affordable nrate for whoever wants to go to CUNY,” Matthew Klingsborg, a freshman standing by Tahir’s side, said.

According to College Board data, the average cost of a four-year public university rose 6.1 percent over the last school year and the average college student is graduating $26,000 in debt.

“It [student debt] is larger than credit card debt — that’s really frightening,” Meng said.

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