AirTalk for August 23, 2011

UC fees surpass state funding for 1st time

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A student protests the University of California's tuition hikes.

For the first time in its 142-year history, the University of California will receive more money from student tuition then it does from state funding.

What was once substantially paid for by the general public in California is being increasingly shifted to individual students and their parents, who will now bear the brunt of the costs for a higher education – $14,000 annually for undergraduate students, to be exact.

Daniel Simmons, who represents faculty at the UC Board of Regents, said that this trend of increasing tuition will most likely continue.

“It’s hard to anticipate anything in the near to mid-term future other than state contributions to higher educations in California being reduced,” Simmons said on KPCC's "AirTalk" Tuesday.

Although the increasing cost of a public education may come as a shock to Californians, the University of California is still an incredible deal for the quality of education students receive, said Jeff Selingo, editor of "The Chronicle for Higher Education."

“The state of California is still much more in the business of higher education than many other states when it comes to their universities,” Selingo said. “If people in other states were hearing this they would say people in California are very lucky."

Many students don't feel so lucky. Matthew from Long Beach is a student at UCLA, and told "AirTalk" that higher tuition means many students must work multiple jobs to keep financially afloat.

This extra burden isn't necessarily a bad thing, said Alex from Pasadena, as it taught him better time management when he was in school. "I worked three jobs in undergrad and it made me a better man overall in life and a better student," Alex said on "AirTalk."

Many believe California should delegate budget cuts differently, and cut funds from sectors other than education, like prisons. "We spend more money on the prison system then we do on education," John from Orange said on "AirTalk." "I think we need to reverse that."

Although many agree that higher education is fundamental to a successful economy and that the state should earmark more money for schools, the reality is that many other sectors can't be charged, Selingo said.

Tuition can be changed, but the government can't charge prisoners for their costly stays in jail or force K-12 students to pay for their own schooling, according to Selingo. Higher education is a "private good" and receiving a bachelor's degree will pay off for the student in the long run, Selingo said.

In an attempt to maintain enrollment of low-income students, UC is still maintaining an active financial aid program, Simmons said. "About one-third of tuition increases goes back into the financial aid program."

Such hefty year-over-year student fee increases were not part of the original design of the public university system in this country. Now-UC President Mark Yudof wrote in 2002, "More than a century ago, state governments and public research universities developed an extraordinary compact. In return for financial support from taxpayers, universities agreed to keep tuition low and provide access for students from a broad range of economic backgrounds, train graduate and professional students, promote arts and culture, help solve problems in the community, and perform groundbreaking research."

Guests:

Jeff Selingo, Editor, “The Chronicle of Higher Education”

Claudia Magana, President, University of California Student Association

Daniel Simmons, Chair, System-Wide Academic Senate, University of California; Professor of Law, UC Davis; Represents Faculty at the UC the Board of Regents


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