California schools get hit again

Amy Scott Dec 14, 2011

Kai Ryssdal: Here’s another story about which you can fairly say, we’ve been here before. The state of California is looking at another round of budget cuts. Turns out a rosy forecast of state revenues last summer was just a couple billion dollars too rosy. Higher education once again finds itself on the chopping block. California’s two public university systems are each going to have to trim another $100 million from their budgets.

Though the size of the cuts may be all California –that is, big — the situation is everywhere. And, as usual, students and their families will likely end up paying the price. From the Marketplace Education Desk at WYPR, Amy Scott reports.

Amy Scott: Tuition at California’s public universities already jumped about 20 percent this year. That’s helped fuel campus protests, like the one at U.C. Davis where students were doused with pepper spray.

U.C. Davis protests: Shame on you!

Steve Boilard is with the Legislative Analyst’s Office in Sacramento. He says Cal State and the University of California don’t plan to raise tuition again.

Steve Boilard: But they have suggested that if these cuts are not restored for next year, they would then seek tuition as a way to replace that funding.

The latest cuts will hit community college students, though. They’ll pay an extra $10 per credit next year — almost 30 percent more.

And what’s happening in California is playing out all over the country. Twenty-eight states have cut higher education funding this fiscal year. Many schools have leaned on students to make up for it.

Joni Finney: The easiest thing to do is increase tuition.

That’s Joni Finney, a professor of higher education at the University of Pennsylvania. She says tuition is rising while family income is falling. Students who do manage to get to college find that classes they need have been cut, so it takes longer to graduate.

Finney: The big impact is that a generation of students will probably be less educated than the generation before.

Universities are making up some of the difference with more financial aid. Just today, U.C. Berkeley announced a new program to help middle-class families pay for college.

I’m Amy Scott for Marketplace.

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