Stop starving our state universities

JUST by watching a bit of television the other night I could tell something is afoot in the world of higher education. Slick ads for Capella University, University of Phoenix, Devry Institute, ITT Tech are flooding the prime time airways.
These for-profit colleges have more money for ads than a pro-Romney Super PAC. Well, I don’t really know exactly who has more bucks, but my point is thus: Ads on TV are expensive.

While for-profit colleges are raking in students and profits, our own Cal State Universities are being sucked dry by the state and are closing their doors and windows quicker than a Midwestern homeowner in the path of twister.

If you don’t want to hear bad news, turn the page or click elsewhere. But if you are outraged over the way the state, our Legislature, and our citizenry have turned their collective backs on our Cal State University system, keep reading. Perhaps you can do something about it.

Last week, the CSU Trustees voted to freeze all admissions for next spring semester as a result of the state cutting $750 million in 2009-2010. That means, instead of the getting the usual 16,000 to 18,000 transfer students, they’ll narrow the door to about 2,000 to 3,000. And these are enrolled in a direct community college-to-CSU program started last year under SB 1440. Locally, Cal State Los Angeles and Cal State Fullerton are the only two campuses accepting transfer students in Spring 2013.

That’s the good news.

Schools, including the CSUs, UCs and Community Colleges are counting on voters approving the governor’s tax plan to raise the state sales tax by a quarter cent and also raise income taxes 2 percent on earners making between $300,000 and $500,000 and 3 percent for those earning more than $500,000. The extra revenue would stave off another $200 million cut to the CSUs set to trigger in late November.

If there are more cuts, the CSUs will reduce enrollment in the fall of 2013 by 20,000 to 25,000 students.

In a way parents can understand, that would mean current high school juniors who can’t get into Harvard or a UC and are trying to get into a Cal State would be affected. Up to 25,000 17-year-olds who fill out applications to one of the 23 CSU campuses will be rejected out of hand or put on waiting lists.

Some say the grade point average for a freshman to get into a Cal State Fullerton or Cal State Long Beach will rise to 3.5 (out of 4.0). Most of the adults who graduated from a CSU and are working in their fields wouldn’t get in today.

So sad. It’s a crime, really, that we’re squeezing hard-working middle class kids and families to the breaking point. The students that populate our CSUs today are the ones who later become accountants, teachers, engineers, nurses, writers, scientists and entrepreneurs thanks to the excellent training they receive.

Another tuition hike set to take affect in five months will raise the cost of attending a CSU to about $6,000 a year – just for tuition. Add books, room and board and a family will be paying $20,000 to $25,000 a year for each son or daughter at a CSU.

One of our sister newspapers wrote that many Ivy League schools are so rich with endowments they are reducing tuition, even for families with up to $175,000 in household income. It is becoming cheaper to attend Harvard than Cal State Fullerton.

I don’t think that families of today’s high school juniors realize the predicament they will be in if no new taxes are approved. I’ve heard stories of B or even A- students getting rejection letters from CSUs. Or, they could crash the community colleges, where record enrollment already prevents many students from getting necessary classes to graduate. Mt. SAC has 63,000 students per semester – the largest in the state. Getting classes is only half the battle – the other half is finding a place to park on campus.

And so it goes with our future generation. This is what we’re doing to young people who will be our country’s next leaders. Sure, wealthier kids and the handful who get into Harvard from the San Gabriel Valley will be fine. Some who earn lesser degrees from for-profit schools will be burdened with persistent college debt.

CSU graduates are huge contributors to what’s good in our society. Let’s not lose them. I don’t want to live in a world where the working class kids are left behind.

This entry was posted in environment, land use, Pasadena by Steve Scauzillo. Bookmark the permalink.

About Steve Scauzillo

I love journalism. I've been working in journalism for 32 years. I love communicating and now, that includes writing about environment, transportation and the foothill/Puente Hills communities of Hacienda Heights, Rowland Heights, Walnut and Diamond Bar. I write a couple of columns, one on fridays in Opinion and the other, The Green Way, in the main news section. Send me ideas for stories. Or comments. I was opinion page editor for 12 years so I enjoy a good opinion now and then.

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