UC Fee Hikes, II

A little more on the University of California strikes over the fee hikes from the previous post. Mostly links I want to categorize for myself.

A few things.

1. One move I find disturbing is the planning of doubling the number of out of state students, who pay more in tuition. This is a move from accepting students based on their marginal ability to learn and contribute to the learning of their peers and instead accepting students based on their marginal ability to pay. That’s the logic of a corporation, and it’s fantastic….in most circumstances. When you have a public institution in a region whose focus should be on grooming and fashioning a generation of high-skilled people, selecting them outside that region based on how much money you can get from them runs in a counter-productive manner.

(Is there room for a pooling equilibrium model where high skill kids in two different regions have to travel to the other region, paying higher costs, if the university has power in selecting them? Need to think that through…)


2. People who are most marginally effected by the changes, those at the border of being able to enter college or not, are the ones protesting the loudest. I’d recommend checking out this link: Why I’m More Inspired by UC Student Actions than I am by NYC Student Actions:

See a difference? yeah, that’s right, there are ACTUALLY WAY MORE students of color who are being radicalized, standing up, and fighting back. they’re not all caught up in the trappings of white anarcho-punk subculture (look! they wear colors! and no bandanas! and they’re also wearing their college sweatshirts, oh dear god, SCHOOL SPIRIT!) – instead, they’re caught up in the fact that their tuition is going up by 32%, that their classes are regularly cancelled due to lack of funding, that this is the ONLY WAY THEY CAN GO TO SCHOOL and it’s being taken away from them. they aren’t fighting back against bourgeois ennui and problems with authority.

3. There’s been a change in how to fund education, and debt is filling in that gap. From the Project on Student Debt, a webpage I’ll be following, a snapshot from their Quick Facts:

We’ve pushed the collective risk-sharing of providing human capital to the next generation back to the individual, a process that will exacerbate inequality. That $20K in student debt, to be paid off by students during their 20s and 30s, could be a car. It could be a down payment on a house. It could be rainy-day money for the income volatility that comes with having a child. Instead it gets seeded off to help pay for something previous generations could take for granted.

And I bring it up because taking out 5 grand in loans a year is what is expected to be affordable for students of the UC system.

4. I wasn’t actually moved at all by the worries that the poorest were paying the most to educate the richest; It was in direct conflict with the “lucky ducky” argument that most people in this space put forward. That was until I read Ed over at ginandtacos, in an entry you should read:

Here in Georgia we have a particularly egregious legislative “fuck you” to the poor called the HOPE Scholarship program. It essentially provides any Georgia high school student who graduates with a 3.0 (which, if I recall high school correctly, is real hard to get) with four years of free tuition at state universities. It is contingent upon maintaining a 3.0 in college, but the vast majority of students I see are paying no tuition. So where does the money come from? A Harvard-sized endowment? Hardly. A generous state legislature? Perish the thought. No, it comes from Lotto tickets.

Whatever measure that are going to be available to try and make education more affordable are going to come most easily, that is with the least amount of political opposition, from de facto taxing the poor with lotto ticket and gambling revenues. States are doing this everywhere.

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9 Responses to UC Fee Hikes, II

  1. Dennis Mennis says:

    Would it make sense to create another UC campus just for the purpose of bringing in out of state students? How about a UC San Jose? The land, proximity to major population center and SV, and proximity to other UC’s could work well.

    Make it the tuition cash cow for the rest of the world. Keep the other UC’s for california.

  2. gabe says:

    1) If one was an out-of-state student, one might think about this differently (hint hint).

    One perspective to consider is that much of public universities funding come from national taxes that support the NSF, USDA, etc. Shouldn’t out-of-state students also have access to public universities in other states that they partially fund? Maybe this means that out-of-state tuition should be lower than it is (by the amount thats funded nationally), but its something to consider. It’s allowed UMichigan to remain competitive depsite terrible state finances. Why shouldn’t someone from Wyoming have a chance to go to a great public university they partially fund just because their state can’t create a berkeley? Besides, the citizens of California clearly aren’t willing to fund the UCs sufficiently. At UIUC, the state only funds 25% of the university. Why should Illinois students get more than 25% of the spots? State governments want it both ways- to defund public universities while reserving almost all the spots for in-state students.

    I would rather have fully funded free public universities supported by high taxes, but given that they are insufficiently funded, I think out-of-state students are one of the least bad alternatives.

    3) I think its really crazy to call debt financial aid. The term aid should mean something that helps you, not a lifelong debt trap.

  3. bph says:

    I actually went to UC as an out of state student and amassed a ridiculous amount of debt for the time (my friends who went to Ivy’s or MIT had the same debt load I did upon graduation). At places like PSU, the U of Michigan or CU Boulder, out of state students provide an enormous share of the budget, no doubt supported by middle class kids loading up on loans, just like I did.

    Why UC will inevitably go that way can be see in a nice plot here. The brown line is the actual trajectory of state spending per taxpayer, all of the other lines are the various plans made to help UC in the past. Note how the brown line lies below the colored lines.

    The state assembly can cut the UC budget. It cannot cut the budget of the prison system, or the regular schools, or health care. UC will become just like CU Boulder of the U of M, a private school with a state name. (I personally know of some administrators who can’t wait for this to happen because budgeting will be much simpler when the state can’t jerk around the university.)

  4. zunguzungu says:

    Thanks for this, Mike (coincidentally, I’ve just posted something at my blog, too, which represents my attempt to figure out exactly it is that the people who are making these kinds of decisions come to be who they are, how Sacramento appoints and authorizes the UC system to make decisions about how public finds and resources are to be used).

    There are reasons why they couldn’t do what you are suggesting; since the UC is technically one university with ten campuses, to create an intentional inequality within it (rather than simply an unintentional effective one) would run contrary to the original principles of it. Of course, by letting in more and more out-of-state students, they more or less are doing exactly what you propose, just little by little within each university.

    The fact that out of state students will pay much, much more than in-state students is exactly the problem. The only point of bringing more out of staters in is that you can milk much more money out of them, but what this then means is that there will then be many fewer slots for in-state kids who have the grades but not the family wealth. UC Berkeley students, for example, are California kids getting the equivalent of a Harvard education, only they’re paying much, much less. So when you start bringing in out of state kids able to pay much more, you replace those very smart middle class California students with very smart out of state upper class students. Right now, the state of California effectively subsidizes the educations of a lot of students who could never afford to get the kind of education they’re getting now, and as you change the class composition, that subsidy disappears. This is why they want to do it, of course, precisely according to the Michigan model. But it ceases to be a public education when you’re charging tuition equivalent to a private university. Michigan, for example, charges in-state 11-13k and out of state 35-37k; it’s essentially a private university for out of state students and a public university for in-state. And as they let in fewer and fewer in-state students each year, they steadily privatize one of the few remaining first class public institutions in the country. I desperately don’t want that to happen to the UC.

    Moreover, the issue of diversity is really part of this equation; as you let in fewer and fewer in-state students, you give world class educations at an affordable price to fewer and fewer students of color, since CAlifornia’s student population is incredibly diverse by comparison to the pool of students in the nation as a whole who are able to afford out of state tuition, an effective (if unintentional) anti-affirmative action.

    As for the question of what the citizens of CA want, the state’s budget fiasco is due to a lot of things, but a choice by the state’s citizens to starve higher ed is not one of them.

    And yes, the loans=financial aid thing is deeply, deeply pernicious. The idea that families making 25k a year are supposed to take on 5k in debt per year of school (as Mike points out that the UC projections actually suggest) would be laughable were it not stunningly callous.

  5. gabe says:

    zungu- I agree with a lot of what you say. I too would prefer a UC system that would provide a tuition-less education, like the General Master Plan.

    However it does remain that out-of-state students (or their families) do pay taxes to support federal programs that give large research grants to UC. From the 2009-2010 budget, about 3 trillion dollars comes from Federal Appropriations and from the Department of Energy. State General Funds plus State Special and Extramural total a little under 3 trillion. So shouldn’t out-of-state students have a right to enter UC with higher tuition but lower than say a foreign student as they too fund the university? This is hardly a way to raise revenue, but I think it would be more just. The total state budget is $20 billion, of which the state provides $3 billion. I think the stateness of state universities is overstated, and they should be more available to out-of-state students. (Just not the way its currently being done which is to just milk out-of-state students).

    http://www.ucop.edu/budget/rbudget/201011/2010-11BudgetforCurrentOperations-Budget%20Detail.pdf (p. 12, pdf)

    Regarding affirmitive action, Proposition 209 did much more to prevent minorities from entering higher education in California than out-of-state students would. That said, I think you’re right than ensuring access to higher education by minorities is important.

    Californians passed Prop 13 last time I checked. They also passed the three strikes rule, etc. Most of the legislature’s choices which contributed to the fiscal crisis were chosen by voters, no?

    In the 1960s, funding for higher ed was much more significant. In the 1960-1961 school year, going to a UC cost $147 ($0 of which is tuition), which is $1,073.58 in 2009 dollars. Agreed that the 2/3rds rule is problematic, but even without the 2/3rds rule, I doubt that people would be willing to fund higher ed like in the 1960s. We’ll see if tuition goes down after the budget crisis is over and by how much.


    • zunguzungu says:

      “the stateness of state universities is overstated, and they should be more available to out-of-state students”

      Heh. I grew up in Ohio while my parents worked in West Virginia, ultimately on some level because they wanted me to attend Ohio’s superior schools (OSU class of 01!). I do feel you on this point. The trouble is, I feel like instead of moving towards equality of public education, we’re moving towards equality of private education: instead of making public universities “available” to out of state students at $35k a year, they should actually be receiving the benefit of their tax dollars. Which is to say, I agree with one caveat: we too often address these questions by asking what people *deserve* based on what they’ve paid in, instead of asking what we need to pay in order to produce the best society. Instead of thinking of it as a commodity owned by the taxpayers who paid into it, in other words, we should think of it as an investment in the people who are being educated, an investment whose dividends are shared in a truly public sense.

      As for the democracy of California’s prop system, yikes. I agree that had voters voted differently, we would’nt be in the predicament we’re in, but that’s always true. And when it comes to higher education, voters have never been presented with the choice “higher ed or property taxes” in an honest way, which is exactly the problem; the byzantine funding system (and dishonest politicians and special interest misinformation campaigns) means that it isn’t at all clear what voters think they’re voting for when they vote for things like prop 13, much less the jump from “voted for prop 13” to “Californians don’t support higher ed.” Never have I been closer to agreeing with James Madison about the tyranny of the majority that in watching how CAlifornia’s direct elections on propositions actually works in practice.

  6. Not the Mike You're Looking For says:

    I think the risk aspect deserves more attention than it’s been getting.

    If everyone who started college was certain to finish, and every graduate was guaranteed a good-paying job, I wouldn’t worry so much about the debt. Yes, it’s burdensome, and yes, it pushes lower-income students away from more altruistic occupations, but these might be tradeoffs that we as a society are willing to make. The important thing is that we are elevating a broader range of people into skilled, middle-class jobs.

    What’s really pernicious about debt, and what makes it such a contributor to inequality, is that the people with the least resources are the most likely to drop out of school, either because they are the first to go to college and lack support networks, they are vulnerable to the loss of income by a family member (Dad gets sick and Junior must support the family), or some other reason. More than anybody, the poor know this, so the prospect of indebtedness preemptively discourages them from bettering their condition through education and thereby dampens economic mobility.

  7. Sisyphus says:

    Ooh look, someone linked to me!

    I’m tutoring over at the cc right now, helping transfer students edit their UC admission essays, and I can tell you right now who they are going to be making the money off: Chinese immigrant students. The international student fees are even higher than for out of state students, and they aren’t eligible for either pell grants or Cal grants, leaving that pot of money available for the “leftover” students. And they put up with an immense amount of shit and family pressure to get over here. They usually can’t even work or get work study, so all their expenses are either saved up cash on the barrel or public and private loans. (Note to self: what connections do Yudof and the regents have with private loan companies?)

    And that’s a good point about those most likely to drop out having the debt burden —- when I first started teaching for my MA (in a state that had the equivalent of that Georgia lotto program), I read several essays by students who explained that their dad or mom was still paying of student debt from when they were younger and had never gotten their degree.

  8. Pingback: Ross Douthat on Poor Whites and Access to Higher Education « Rortybomb

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