November 24, 2010 (San Diego) -- Californians are becoming increasingly worried about the cost of higher education. A new survey from the Public Policy Institute of California found that 74 percent of those polled said the state does not provide enough money to its public colleges and universities.
Project manager Sonja Petek says the survey also found a large increase in the number of people who would rather pay higher taxes than see student fees increase. The survey found almost 60 percent of all parents, and 72 percent of Latino parents, are very worried about paying for college.
Last week, the University of California regents approved an eight percent increase in tuition on top of a 32-percent increase last year. That came on the heels of a 15-percent increase approved by the California State University trustees for their students.
"Even in the face of a tough economic climate over the last year, Californians are more likely this year than last year to say that they'd be willing to pay higher taxes to maintain funding levels at the state public colleges and universities."
What steps would residents be willing to take to raise revenue for colleges and universities? They are divided on whether they would pay higher taxes to maintain current funding (49% yes, 49% no), with a strong partisan divide (64% of Democrats yes, 51% of independents and 69% of Republicans no). However, Californians’ willingness to pay higher taxes has increased over the last year, when just 41% said yes, 56% said no in 2009.
Opposition to raising student fees holds across party lines (63% Democrats, 60% Republicans, 59% independents). (The PPIC survey was taken before the University of California proposed, and California State University approved, fee increases earlier this month.)
A majority of adults (57%) support another idea under consideration: admitting more out-of-state students who pay higher tuition. But support drops to 26 percent if doing so would mean that fewer California students would be admitted.
Asked about measures colleges and universities have already taken to deal with decreased state funding, Californians are most likely to be very concerned about increasing tuition and fees for students (65%), followed by admitting fewer students (62%), offering fewer classes (59%), and reducing the pay and hours for college faculty and staff (46%).
While the overall affordability of college is seen as a big problem, Petek says a strong majority of residents believe the state's three college systems are doing a good or excellent job. But getting there is the hard part.
"A strong majority of residents say that many people don't have the opportunity to go to college even if they're qualified and motivated to do so. Just one in four Californians believes the majority of qualified students have the opportunity."
The report is available at www.ppic.org.