College Guide


June 25, 2010 4:41 PM What’s Happening to Public Colleges?

By Daniel Luzer

America’s state universities have funding problems across the country. Because of this tuition is higher and education is even harder to access. This is trouble for American education, writes University of California, Davis chancellor Linda Katehi in the Huffington Post, because:

The absence of sufficient state and federal funding will force the public research universities to continue to raise tuition and fees. And, while Pell Grants and Cal Grants would assist those from economically disadvantaged homes, high school students whose families occupy the lower and middle rungs of the middle class will increasingly find themselves unable to pay for a public education, or forced to assume substantial loans.
This is one version of our future where assets — and not ability — will determine access to the best public universities. Such a future, all too imaginable though far from inevitable, starkly contradicts the principles governing the creation of the land-grant universities through the Morrill Act in 1862.

Katehi is writing specifically about the University of California and its long-ignored Master Plan for Higher Education but it applies to state universities across the country as well.

Yes, at this point colleges and universities can survive by increasingly privatizing themselves and forcing higher and higher tuition on undergraduates, but that’s not an appropriate strategy to create an educated population. President Obama has pledged to make the United States the leader in world college graduation rates by 2020. The more education costs, the harder it is to reach that goal.

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


  • alix on June 26, 2010 12:54 AM:

    This is no fun, but since community colleges actually got some funding, students without a lot of resources ought to think of taking their required core courses at their state's comm. college (as long as they transfer to the 4-year colleges).

    No fun, as I said. But here's good sense:
    Summer after high school grad:
    Take first sem freshman English comp and math at the community college.
    Transfer those credits to 4-year college.
    In fall, start as a freshman at 4-year public college. Take a couple courses in your major, and any required core courses you won't get at community college. If you're feeling energetic, take the second semester of English comp (if it transfers) online through the community college.
    Every summer, pick up 1-2 more required courses (like Speech) through the community college.
    Continue taking the courses in your major and the ones that won't transfer at your 4-year college.

    I estimate you can save $8000 if you can get 18 hours transferrable credit in required courses at the community college instead of the state u.

    But it's essential to check ahead of time to find out what transfers. You don't want to take courses in your major only to find out they transfer only as electives.

  • g on June 26, 2010 9:36 AM:

    I know several college students who have tried to enroll in classes at community colleges to do exactly as commenter alix advises above. And guess what? They can't get into those classes - community colleges are cutting staff and cutting back on classes, and the space is not available.

    So good luck with that.