California, home to the world’s fifth-largest economy, has the dubious paradoxical distinction of unmatched wealth and nation-leading poverty rates. In one of the most recent studies, the California Budget & Policy Center reported that more than 20% of the state’s children live in families who can’t afford basic necessities, thanks in part to the state’s housing crisis and high cost of living.
In a little over a decade, the median rent in California has gone up 44 percent. Over the same period, the maximum financial aid award the state gives low-income students for non-tuition costs has gone up by only 8 percent, according to a recent report from the California Budget & Policy Center.
A new publication by the California Budget & Policy Center illustrates the problem. Since 1981-82, UC enrollment at increased by 113%, while State funding per student has declined by 51%. During the same time period, CSU enrollment grew by 68%, even as per student State funding declined by 26%. The results of this disconnect are clear—too many qualified California students have been turned away, we have lost top notch faculty and much of the cost burden has been shifted to students and their families in the form of higher tuition and fees.
Chris Hoene, executive director of the left-leaning California Budget & Policy Center, captured the Legislature’s desires this way: “With so many California households struggling to afford the basics, the revised budget’s lack of significant new funding for affordable housing or for subsidized child care and preschool is disappointing. In addition to prioritizing these areas in the final budget, state policymakers also should look to boost CalWORKs (welfare) grants, which have been below the deep-poverty threshold for a decade, increase support for CSU and UC, increase cash assistance for low-income seniors and people living with disabilities, and expand health coverage to undocumented immigrants.”
Between 1981-82 and 2017-18, enrollment in the UC System grew by 113 percent while per-student state funding fell 51 percent, according to the nonprofit California Budget & Policy Center. Over the same time period, CSU enrollment increased by 68 percent and per-student spending dropped by 26 percent.