Privatizing the University

For the first time in its history as an institution of higher learning, the University of California will this year receive more income from student tuition than from the state of California. According to an article by Larry Gordon in the Los Angeles Times:

For most of its history, UC charged students little or nothing for their education. In recent years, though, multimillion-dollar cuts in state funding have led to soaring tuition. Back-to-back increases for the coming school year have pushed tuition and fees for undergraduates to more than $13,000, with the total price of attendance, including room and board, topping $31,000 a year.

UC expects to collect $2.9 billion in tuition this school year, up from $2.56 billion last year. The state is to provide $2.4 billion in general funds and lottery money, down from $2.9 billion last year, and that funding could drop if tax revenues weaken. The university’s total budget, including hospital revenues, federal research grants and donations, is $20 billion; UC leaders note that most of that money is restricted and cannot be used for undergraduate education.

Most American state universities receive the majority of their funding from undergraduate tuition. California historically tried to keep costs down, however. But as the article points out, “state funding for UC and the California State University was cut $650 million this year for each system.”

And tuition will make up the difference. Students will pay almost $1,900 more this year to attend University of California campuses.

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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