• September 2, 2015

California's Public Colleges Face $1.4-Billion in New Budget Cuts

Gov. Jerry Brown of California proposed a new round of budget cuts to public colleges on Monday, a total of $1.4-billion in cuts that may lead to reductions in university enrollments and sharply higher tuition at community colleges.

Mr. Brown, a Democrat in his second week in office, proposed cutting state support to each of California's university systems by $500-million to help close a state budget deficit in 2011-12. California State University would lose 18 percent of its state support, while the University of California would lose 17 percent.

The state's 112 community colleges would lose $400-million in state support, a 6.5-percent cut. Tuition at the two-year colleges would rise sharply under the proposal, to $36 per credit hour from $26 per credit hour.

The governor's budget plan follows a relatively good year for the universities, which received new state support in October. But the severity of this year's proposal, added to reductions over the past few years, could force public colleges to reconsider some of their highest priorities.

Under the proposal, the University of California would receive more money from tuition than from state support for the first time, said the system's president, Mark G. Yudof.

"With the governor's budget, as proposed, we will be digging deep into bone," Mr. Yudof said in a written statement. "The physics of the situation cannot be denied—as the core budget shrinks, so must the university."

Mr. Yudof warned in a Facebook message last week that new cuts could force the university to consider reducing the availability of financial aid, sharply cutting total enrollment, and eliminating limits on out-of-state students.

Under the governor's proposal, Cal State would once again be forced to reduce its enrollment in the fall and restrict the number of courses it offers to students, the system's chancellor, Charles B. Reed, said in a written statement.

The cuts may get worse. Mr. Brown's budget proposal assumes that California voters approve a series of tax increases later this year. If the voters reject those increases, colleges would be on the line for further cuts, Mr. Brown said on Monday.


1. 22286593 - January 10, 2011 at 04:35 pm

This new round of cuts will make it likely that UC Berkeley, UCLA, and UCSD will shift their tuition and admissions policy to become more like University of Michigan and University of Virginia. The shift that has already occurred will now gain momentum and will unfold in the next couple of years. By 2004-2005, anywhere between 30-40 percent of the students will be non-California residents. The big question will be whether UCSB, UC Davis, UC Irvine, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, San Diego State, or Cal State Long Beach will make a similar shift. All of this will limit the educational opportunity for middle- and working-class Californians--particularly the large number of first- and second-generation Latino students whose ability to receive high-quality, affordable higher education will shape the economic future of the state. What to do? If I were Mark Yudof, I would reluctantly let UC Berkeley, UCLA, and UCSD privatize but also redirect additional resources to UC Irvine, UC Riverside, UC Davis,, and UC Merced with the caveat that these campuses focus more of they resources to undergraduate education, raising their undergraduate graduation rates, and implementing a minimum teaching load for the faculty.

2. droslovinia - January 10, 2011 at 04:43 pm

It's always a bad thing to cut money to Higher Education, but it would help if the educational institutions did a better job of educating the public at large. For instance, this article reports that community colleges are responding to a 6.5 percent cut with a 38 percent increase in tuition. Doesn't that sort of news need a little explaining?

3. gene_grey - January 10, 2011 at 04:52 pm

When Jerry Brown was elected, I resigned myself to the idea that it will probably be a long time before I see my salary increase... now I have to hope we don't have furloughs again and that our teaching loads don't increase when we don't have the money to pay our part-time faculty.

4. nyworker - January 10, 2011 at 05:06 pm

In NYS I attended a Community College that charges $144/credit hour. A little MORE then CA.

5. hellenist - January 10, 2011 at 05:18 pm

As someone who travels a fair amount to other states as a product of my work with honors classes and organizations, it is interesting to note that Cal (where I teach) is
a) one of the richest (as measured by Gross State Product) in the nation
b) charges one of the lowest, if not the lowest CC fees in the nation
c) has rates of transfer, success and retention that are no better and usually worse, than states who are much poorer but charge much more.

Whatever we are doing, it's not like asking for higher CC fees is going to make it worse

6. norockl - January 10, 2011 at 06:17 pm

I work at a community college in Florida and we charge $91.73 per credit hour for in-state residents and $347.42 per credit hour for out-of-state residents. The tuition at community colleges in California are too low to begin with.

7. ccenglishprof - January 10, 2011 at 07:21 pm

To poster #6 ("norockl"):

Up through the middle 1980's community colleges in California were free. The costs of all three branches of higher education in California have always been highly subsidized, part of the state's vaunted "Master Plan" that goes back to when Jerry Brown's father was governor.

But to say that the costs are "too low"--is that just based on a comparison to the costs of Florida? Why is the Florida cost any fairer? (Your cost is some $53 per unit less than New York's. Which is "fairer" between those two states?)

I'm unaware of any study or claim that says making students pay x percentage of the actual cost is "fairer," and I don't know of any state that makes students pay the full 100% cost of their education.

As someone who teaches at one of the largest California cc's, I think many of our students can weather a $10 per unit fee increase. But there is also evidence in California that for every $5 such fees increase, the cc's lose thousands of enrollees.

Any way you look at it, increasing college and university fees hurt student access to higher education and increase obstacles to student success...

8. 3224243 - January 11, 2011 at 09:18 am

I attended CA's community colleges in the late 80s/early 90s. I think it was $7/unit when I started. I could have and would have paid more had the cost been higher especially considering that graduate school cost me $1000/unit.

Raise the tuition to $50/unit, get rid of the fluff classes (of which there are many), provide financial aid to serious students who commit to an AA or AS program and offer a small fee rebate to students who actually complete their degree and transfer to a comprehensive or research institution.

9. jcas3309 - January 11, 2011 at 09:26 am

Tough Times - All Public Higher Education

A very difficult situation for the state, institutions, and the students. With these size cuts, new business and academic models will need to be implemented. This will be no different than many other states as they begin their next budget process. All constituencies need to be involved in brainstorming new ideas for cost savings and new models! Other public institutions should watch and take notice. One comment I could not agree with more - higher education needs to do a better job of educating the general public on their costs, financial model, and organizational structure (what costs are covered by tuition, what costs are not and how are they funded). Transparency and a better understanding of the higher education business model is needed now!

F. John Case , President/Consultant at FJ Case Consulting, LLC

10. 11232247 - January 11, 2011 at 10:27 am

Sorry California, but there are no free lunches. Nevertheless, the rest of the nation is eternally grateful for the graphic and painful example you are now setting. Perhaps we will all learn something from your upcoming ecounters with forced economic austerity.

Good luck, keep your stick on the ice, and know that we are all pulling for you

11. jrllanes - January 11, 2011 at 11:59 am

Government sees higher education as an expense and very few elected officials think of it as a common good. We are quickly merging into a tuition supported system of higher education, where the more efficient and the more prestigious will succeed and the lesser so will fail. A tuition supported system will undoubtedly result in fewer 18-24 year olds going to college. We have already descended to 14th in the world from 1st in 1997 in that area.Our system of higher education is inefficient in ways that have nothing to do with quality of instruction. For example, the average student takes 4 years 9 months to complete a degree and only 49% of those entering college graduate. We could reduce the time to completion by one full year and create a 20% more efficient system and we could introduce a 3-year baccalaureate and graduate 10-15% more students in 25% less time. In today's world there isn;t one private sector organization that would turn its back on these painless gains in productivity, yet we are too arrogant in higher education to work smarter, faster, cheaper.
JR LLanes Oohm Blog http://jrllanes.wordpress.com

12. 11280282 - January 11, 2011 at 01:32 pm

For those who support the notion of UC to privatize as the UCLA Anderson Graduate School of Managment is doing, as a school, college, university or system, the question needs to be raised, is the UC willing to pay back to the citizens their investment over the years to the tune of multi-billions for the land, facilities, faculty, and intellectual capital that it has underwritten since its inception? Is UC also willing to repay the taxpayers around the country for the largess provided by years and years of research dollars, land-grant dollars, and so forth? And where is the public policy discussion about the public interest as it relates to the role and responsibilities the university has to the state itself?

13. tuxthepenguin - January 11, 2011 at 04:01 pm

But at least this will provide an incentive for the citizens of California to work hard in their pre-fetus days, so as to be born to the right parents. If you're too lazy to work hard before you are conceived, you do not deserve to go to college.

14. w1y43401 - January 11, 2011 at 04:30 pm

UC should consider disbanding its Merced Campus to save money. There is no need to keep building a new campus while there is no real demand for it. It is a waste of money.

15. fsusocialwork - January 14, 2011 at 11:38 am

Yes, cc costs in California seem quite low even with the increase. But the cc system is the biggest bargain in higher ed from an administrative cost persective. You can save a few pennies on the cc system, but there are real dollars to be saved in the flagship universities. They spend more on one person's travel budget alone than a cc might spend on a whole faculty member. if you want to stop the hemorrhaging, try looking first at where the blood is gushing out the fastest.

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