Fights over funding for higher education aren’t putting CA students first

March 5th, 2015
Fights over funding for higher education aren’t putting CA students first

On Friday, the California Legislative Analyst’s Office (LAO) released an analysis of the Governor’s 2015-16 proposed higher education budget that raises grave concerns with its recommendation to not fund critical enrollment growth for the University of California (UC) and the California State University (CSU). And yesterday, UC President Napolitano noted that the UC will not commit to serving more California students than the state budget will fund while simultaneously announcing a cap on out-of-state student enrollment at UCLA and UC Berkeley.

California parents and taxpayers understand better than anyone the importance of a college education for their children and yet feel that a quality public university experience may soon be out of reach. Last year, the UC placed 11,183 UC eligible students who were denied admission to campuses to which they applied in a referral pool for UC Merced – where only 240 enrolled. CSU has repeatedly noted that tens of thousands of eligible students are also turned away from their system and that they face real challenges in being able to provide a spot to all eligible students, including those who transfer from community college. As a proud UCLA alum, the cap on out-of-state student enrollment at UCLA and UC Berkeley is truly the least the UC can do, it should do more. Did you know that 30 percent of UCLA and UC Berkeley freshman in fall 2014 were out-of-state and foreign students? Ten years ago they made up only five and eight percent of the freshman class at UCLA and UC Berkeley, respectively.

I agree with the LAO that the state deserves a better assessment of the capacity campuses have to serve students and that our state leaders should expect and demand better outcomes from our colleges. But it should not be harder for California students today to get a quality UC or CSU education, and the LAO’s recommendation would do just that, as would the UC’s position to limit additional enrollment.

The Public Policy Institute of California’s recent poll on Californians and their government found that residents support more funding for our universities but want those dollars accounted for. I understand that our colleges and universities cannot serve California students at the levels necessary without additional investment. So, I urge the Governor and Legislature to ensure that new dollars for much needed enrollment growth are included in the budget, but they are tied to improvements in transfer acceptance, time-to-degree, increasing underrepresented student success and graduation rates and serving MORE California students – not less.

Students and families have been faced with rising college costs, inability to access the classes they need, less support services on campus, and a longer time to graduation. Let’s not add to that troubling list the elimination of the very funding that protects their spots in college.

About the Author:

Michele Siqueiros is the President of the Campaign for College Opportunity.

To read her complete bio, click here. Follow her on Twitter @MSCollegeOpp