Doing the Math on Tuition Increase Plan

For the umpteenth time in the past few years, the California State University is on the verge of raising student tuition, this time by as much as 32 percent.

The latest adjustment would bring annual education fees to about $7,400. The increases have occurred at such a torrid rate that fees have doubled in just three years--all this as a result of the legislature slashing state support because of the state's budget crisis.

Along with the added financial burden on students is the distressing news that CSU is likely to admit 20,000 fewer qualified transfer students during the next year. In addition, the community colleges will not only have higher fees but may turn away as many as 100,000 students throughout the state.

These are the new realities of higher education in California, a state where entry into the education pipeline is increasingly difficult with soaring tuition costs and huge  debt as the prize for getting in.

There's another piece to this higher education puzzle: the future of the state's workforce. According to research conducted by the Public Policy Institute of California, California's job demands will require 41 percent of the workforce to have Bachelor's degrees by 2025, yet current projections suggest that only 34 percent will meet that education threshold.

And these data were generated before the latest moves by CSU and the community colleges.

All this suggests an outcome of the state budget crisis that may last for generations. If the state can't produce enough skilled people to take the jobs awaiting them, employers will either hire qualified people from other states or move their businesses out of state. Either way, such a prognosis does not bode well for long-term recovery.

These days, we are so busy dealing with the crises of the moment that we often fail to appreciate the impact on generations to come. The news on university admissions and soaring costs may not seem more than an unwelcome financial adjustment now, but the consequences for California may be far worse down the road. 

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