Our students, our state, our future

All California students deserve the opportunity to get a high-quality four-year college education. But that promise is being broken every day because California’s system for financing its public universities is not working on behalf of students.

The Problem

There are four interrelated sides to the finance challenges facing California public universities. A viable solution requires attention to all four dimensions.

General fund/tuition see-saw

In good times, we see big increases in state appropriations and tuition freezes. In bad times, just when demand for college is highest, we see painful budget cuts and drastic increases in tuition. The erratic patterns burden families and make planning tough for institutions and the state.

Budgeting of “fixed” costs

New funding for CSU and UC go to employee benefits costs that the state and institutions cannot afford to pay—without transparent consideration of tradeoffs such as spending on student enrollments or increasing use of part-time faculty. We need a benefits structure that is fair to employees and sustainable for the system.

Inflexible academic cost structures

Institutions of higher education are locked into spending money in areas that are no longer needed instead of providing necessary support in the areas that will help students succeed. California needs to reset this balance to put the money where it will help students the most.

Decision making and accountability

Decision making is fragmented and inconsistent. State government and higher education decision makers often talk past one another and don’t use consistent language or common metrics. This perpetuates miscommunication and contributes to poor accountability. We need a common vocabulary and common ways to measure progress.

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