College Affordability

Restoring the promise of California’s higher education system.

There was a time, in the not-too-distant past, that California’s public university system was the envy of the world, and where a typical California young person could achieve admission to public four-year college or two-year community college and then make their way toward a degree while supporting themselves with a regular job.  Sadly, alarmingly even, this is far from the case today. Over the past decade, the costs of in-state tuition at the University of California (UC) and California State University (CSU) have risen at far steeper rates than at other public universities in other states. These steady, massive increases have seriously jeopardized the affordability of a college education for California families, especially for those with relatively modest incomes.

In today’s increasingly competitive and globalized economy, the skills obtained through higher education are key to success; the greater the number of Californians who pursue and complete a college education in the field of their choice, the greater the chances of a thriving, dynamic California economy that generates innovation and growth, creating high-paying jobs and brighter futures for all. Moreover, allowing college to become unattainable but for a chosen few, while saddling too many who pursue it with crushing debt loads, is not only bad for individuals, it’s bad for all of us. Without a qualified, engaged labor force properly equipped to compete and win in the globalized marketplace of the 21st century, California’s economy is unlikely to thrive, making it impossible to support the kinds of state programs to which we as a state have come to take for granted over the past decades.

As the result of steady tuition increases over the past decade, the costs of attending California’s public universities are now at an all-time high. From 2004 to 2013, the average yearly tuition at UC and CSU schools more than doubled.  Such steep increases are a source of concern for average Californians, who justifiably fear that they and their children will be priced out of postsecondary education or forced to take on excessive debt in order to earn a degree.

Every Californian student should be able to count on access to an affordable, high-quality public post-secondary education if they aspire to it, or to an equally high-quality vocational education if that’s more consistent with their goals.  And every California student should be able to make their way through their post-secondary schooling without taking on the kinds of debt burdens which have become increasingly common, and which for too many serve as debilitating millstones whose servicing prevents them from taking risks or investing in homeownership as previous generations, not similarly burdened, had the good fortune to do. 

As your state senator, I intend to make affordability and access in higher education one of my highest priorities. California’s students represent an immense source of untapped potential—for innovation, achievement, and participation in the 21st century economy. The public university system in California belongs to all of us, and we must ensure that it continues to, properly and affordably, serve us all.

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