Often when journalists discuss the increased cost of tuition in the University of California system people end up reading a lot of stories about how Bill and Suzanne in Santa Barbara now have to pay more money to send their daughter to one of the UCs, which means they have to sell a vacation house or can’t buy a new car yet.
That’s an entirely valid and relevant part of the fee increase, but the rising price of California higher education actually matters in another sense.
As Lydia Lum writes in an article for Diverse Issues in Higher Education rising education fees will reduce access to professional schools:
Along with a 32 percent systemwide fee increase that UC regents approved less than a year ago in response to an ongoing state fiscal crisis, regents approved myriad wide-ranging spikes for professional degree programs that ran as high as 64 percent.
A father to three children, [UCLA Dental student Hector] Godoy figures to amass about $160,000 in debt, close to what the average UCLA dental student borrows nowadays. However, his fees of $36,794 for the next academic year, excluding housing and books, are about 16 percent higher than last year’s bill.
Amassing debt to attend professional school is common, even at state schools like UCLA. The trouble is that with fee increases of 16 percent, this will eventually make the prospect of professional school—especially in needed areas like dentistry, pharmacy, and medicine—much less attractive.