Budget cuts have consequences for state schools. While for years public colleges have justified cost increases by pointing out how much cheaper they were than private colleges, it turns out that budget cuts end up making state schools both more expensive and lower quality.

According to a new report issued by the Institute for Higher Education Leadership & Policy at Sacramento State University, California’s public universities used to be among the best in the nation. Now most of them are just struggling to be average:

California is nowhere near a leader on the measures of higher education performance that the nation’s governors and educational leaders have been tracking for over a decade. We are average, at best, and trending downward.

Over the seven years that the Institute for Higher Education Leadership & Policy (IHELP) has been tracking these measures, developed by a leading national policy organization… there has been improvement in only one area – the preparation of high school students for college – and we are still worse than most states in that category. IHELP offers this report in the hope that Californians will commit to reversing the trend toward producing young generations that are not as well educated as we need them to be.

IHELP looked at six trends—preparation, affordability, participation, completion, benefits, and finance—over a seven year period. In terms of affordability the California system is now about average and on the way down. Its completion rates are about average, so is its total financial health.

Only in terms of preparation, helping high school students access college, is California really doing a good job, according to the report.

Daniel Luzer

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer