What can be done to make college more affordable?

Ashley Restauro – Senior:

Close to 27,000 California residents attend San Francisco State University each year, paying close to $3,300 per semester while course availability is decreasing and the time it takes to graduate is increasing.

What can be done to make college more affordable for students since it is taking more time to achieve their degrees?

 

Response from District 19 Assembly Member Phil Ting:

May 14, 2014

As a student at Cal, I fought for more inclusive admissions. Access to higher education should be a goal for all Californians.

Education is the great equalizer. Unfortunately, years of sustained budget deficits and horrific cuts have challenged the state’s ability to maintain a high-quality, affordable state university system. We have a lot of repair work to do on our campuses because it took California way too long to balance the burden of budget cuts with new tax revenues.

With voters passing Proposition 30, in 2012, we could start repairing the damage. Spending on the California State University (CSU) increased $125 million this past year to keep fees stable and to help campuses provide more classes. We also created the Middle Class Scholarship to help students pay for college. Beginning this fall, students will see relief as scholarships roll out. When fully implemented, the scholarship will slash student fees at the University of California and CSU by up to 40 percent. That’s real relief!

New voter-approved revenues paired with student activism made these successes possible. As our state’s finances improve, we need to keep the pressure on in order to get more investment in higher education this year.

Over the next month, the State Legislature will decide how much to spend on higher education when adopting a state budget. The Assembly Democrats want more than a simple spending increase for higher education. We want to expand the number of students who can enroll, make the cost of a degree more affordable, and continue to make classes more available. Learn more in our Assembly Blueprint for a Responsible Budget.

Among other goals, I am personally fighting for the following in this year’s state budget.

  • Emergency funding to help City College of San Francisco stay open by stabilizing its finances. Nearly 80,000 students – many who plan to transfer to San Francisco State University – depend on the school, which is the largest community college in California.
  • CalGrant B Access Award reform. These grants are intended to cover living expenses for our lowest income college students but the current amount is $1,473 – a totally inadequate sum considering the cost of living in California let alone the San Francisco Bay Area. I am authoring legislation on this – AB 1364 – which is also part of the Assembly budget blueprint.
  • Restoring the freshman eligibility study for our state universities. It was eliminated in recent years but must be restored as an important enrollment and planning tool to assess whether state universities are appropriately funded and are meeting their goals for student access and success.

By getting involved, you can help make these goals for higher education a reality. As negotiations move towards the June 15th deadline to pass a budget, please follow me on Twitter @PhilTing and on Phil Ting's Facebook for updates. Let’s restore the greatness of our public universities together!

Phil Ting represents the 19th Assembly District, which includes portions of San Francisco and South San Francisco along with Daly City, Broadmoor, and Colma.  He serves as Chair of the Assembly Democratic Caucus and as a member of the Assembly Budget Subcommittee on Education Finance.