The state’s Legislative Analyst’s Office released a new report that criticizes Governor Jerry Brown’s plan to freeze tuition at state universities. The LAO also rejected his overall plan for funding higher education.
Let’s start with tuition: Brown wants to freeze tuition at the University of California and California State University systems over the next few years now that the economy is beginning to improve.
Students, who have seen tuition double in the last five years, love the idea. However, Deputy Legislative Analyst Jennifer Kuhn says a tuition freeze is the wrong approach because that practice will lead to even steeper tuition increases for future students during the next economic downturn.
“The state policy right now is, ‘When we can afford it, we’ll leave [tuition] flat. When we can’t, [tuition] will increase.’ Students, depending on whether they enter college during a recession or recovery, are treated very differently.”
Instead, Kuhn says the governor should push a plan for modest and predicable tuition increases, and students and the universities should share the burden.
“It would be a cost-sharing agreement,” says Kuhn. “For example , the state would bear 70 percent of the cost increases … and students would bear 30 percent.”
When it comes to the governor’s overall approach to funding UC and CSU, Kuhn says Brown is wrong once again.
He wants to give the systems flexibility in how they spend their share of state funding. But Kuhn says that hands-off approach means important programs may fall by the wayside.
“It takes the Legislature’s job away from them,” says Kuhn. “Instead of [the Legislature] making important decisions about student access, student success, faculties and facilities, [the governor] would delegate all that to the [educational] systems.”