Why We Need Higher Education Finance Reform for Our Students, Institutions, and State

California’s economic health and civil society are being imperiled by an outdated and increasingly dysfunctional approach to paying for its public university systems—the California State University and the University of California. Without change, each year many more qualified and motivated California students will be turned away from the opportunity to get a college degree.

Reforming higher education finance requires change both at the state level and within the institutions. Such reform will be challenging and difficult, but it is doable and it is imperative that California undertake this effort.

College Futures Foundation began examining this issue because we recognized that the system for financing and budgeting for our public universities is itself one of the biggest barriers to bachelor’s degree attainment for California students, particularly for low-income and first-generation students.

We can’t ignore what has become a major obstacle in the path to success for this and future generations of these students, for the future of the state’s public higher education systems, and for the work of our Foundation.

For the past year, College Futures has conducted a series of quiet conversations with experts with deep experience in public policy in general and in higher education and its finance in particular. We used these conversations to review research, to test ideas and language, and to help formulate a realistic and actionable plan.

In the coming weeks, our Foundation will release a report that presents a comprehensive analysis of the higher education finance issue and offer guidance for reforms. The report represents a balanced examination of what we believe the greatest challenges to be and explores a range of feasible solutions.

As with any difficult and vital public problem, everyone will be asked and encouraged to contribute ideas, participate in the discussion, and consider options that will increase educational opportunities for all California students. Our role at College Futures Foundation is to be an honest broker for sound research and feasible ideas.

The report, which will be posted here, is designed to be the beginning of a candid, practical conversation organized around an objective we should all agree to—that our students deserve the chance to succeed and that we owe it to them to give them that opportunity.

We look forward to pursuing this important journey together.