This week the University of California (UC) took an important step toward simplifying the transfer pathway for California community college students. For too long, community college students looking to transfer to the UC to earn their bachelor degrees were confronted with a complex and difficult to navigate process which yielded low rates of transfer. Yesterday’s news of a single set of courses that will prepare transfer students for one of ten popular majors at any of the UC’s nine undergraduate campuses is historic. Another 11 majors are in development and will cover two thirds of the pathways into the UC.
State funding for public universities has not kept pace with the growing young adult population seeking a spot in college, and this has created a more competitive college admissions process. It is harder to get into college today than it has ever been for previous generations. As you’ve read in our latest reports on the state of Latino and Black students in higher education, racial inequities have persisted over time and continue to grow. While there are many factors that have a role in this disheartening trend, our latest policy brief examines the effects of Proposition 209, the voter approved ban on the use of race in college admissions. Proposition 209 has created barriers to college access for California students and has had the biggest impact on Black and Latino students applying to the University of California’s (UC) most selective campuses.
Our newest report, The State of Higher Education in California – Black Report is being released today. California is home to the fifth largest Black population in the nation, and while our research has some good news – more Black adults today have a high school diploma and college degree than in the past there is also disheartening findings. Black high school students are still less likely to graduate from high school and when they do, less likely to have completed the college preparatory curriculum needed for admission to the University of California and California State University systems compared to other major racial/ethnic groups. Black students who do make it to college are the most likely to be placed into pre-college level coursework, the least likely to graduate from college, and the most likely to enroll in for-profit colleges – some of which have traditionally poor rates of student success and high tuition costs and student debt levels.
Heeding the call to invest in bright spots in remedial education redesign, Governor Brown announced last week a crucial $60 million investment for the Basic Skills and Student Outcomes Transformation Program. The program will assist community colleges in improving delivery of basic skills instruction by adopting or expanding the use of high impact practices that are proven to significantly increase the number of under-prepared students who successfully complete.
Governor Jerry Brown’s revised budget proposal is good for higher education. It provides multi-year financial stability to our public higher education systems and increases funding by $2.9 billion over the 2014-15 budget while making student success a top priority.
We applaud the Governor for funding to support student equity plans at community colleges, a focus on creating a simplified transfer pathway to the University of California (UC) from community colleges modeled after the California State University’s (CSU) associate degree for transfer pathway, and acknowledgement that improving time to degree can open up much needed space at our colleges and universities.
Today we are releasing, The State of Higher Education in California – Latino Report which finds that while more Latinos in California are graduating from high school and going to college, they continue to be underrepresented in every segment of higher education and have significantly lower levels of college degree attainment than all other racial/ethnic groups in the state. In fact, only 12% of Latino working-age adults have a bachelor’s degree compared to 42% of White adults. And while each new generation of Latino Californians is becoming more educated than the previous ones Latino students still face major barriers on the path to reach their college dreams.
In 2014, over 300 leaders in 14 cities across California joined the Campaign for College Opportunity in a Statewide Listening Tour to tackle some of the biggest challenges facing higher education today. What we learned is that Californians are ready for a new visionary plan for higher education and have some strong ideas for getting the state moving in the right direction.
We are proud to have partnered with Excelencia in Education, on the release of a new report that analyzes existing state policies in California most obviously connected to equity and Latino college completion. The report provides a high level review of policies that may be helping, hindering, or warrant reconsideration to improve Latino student success in higher education. We hope the policies identified will spark conversations and actions to close the equity gaps among all groups in California. The full report released by Excelencia in Education, also considers policies in Colorado and Texas.
Last week, in a troubling move, the House and Senatepassed budget proposals that put the dream of a college education in jeopardy for millions of students and families across the country. The budget proposes to:
- Eliminate mandatory funding for Pell Grants
- Freeze the maximum grant at its current level, instead of allowing it to increase to keep pace with inflation. Over time, this would reduce financial aid for almost all of the more than 8 million students who rely on Pell Grants to afford college.
- Eliminate the subsidized loan program, Public Service Loan Forgiveness, and income-based repayment. These are the very programs that help students repay their loan debt after graduation.
This budget proposal is bad for students and families.