Financing College in Hard Times: Work and Student Aid
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Financing College in Hard Times: Work and Student Aid

  • Author(s): Leisenring, Amy
  • Santos, Jose Luis
  • Orfield, Gary
  • et al.
Abstract

These are the third in a series of reports exploring the impact of California's fiscal crisis on the opportunities for underrepresented students in the California State University system. Although the Master Plan for Higher Education called for tuition-free affordable college for all qualified California students, the fiscal reality of California has led to the abandonment of that promise and rapidly rising tuition and other costs of college. Over the last decade, the California State University (CSU) has sustained a substantial decrease in state general funds and has offset these decreases by increasing tuition and fees by over 166 percent. In 1967 the state paid approximately 90% of a student’s education while today it pays approximately 64%. As costs associated with college rise for students, including housing and books, attending and financing college may become too difficult for students with the greatest financial need, the reports find, particularly the state’s majority of Latino and African American youth. Related Documents Financing College in Hard Times

The first study, by San Jose State University Professor Amy Leisenring, says that due to rising college costs and budget cuts, 86% of students surveyed in the study work for pay while in college, with underrepresented minority students comprising a large majority of students who work while in college.  Leisenring’s study explores the impact of recent budget cuts on Latino, African American and American Indian students, their views on tuition/fee increases and the affects of working in paid employment on their academic success.  Higher Tuition, More Work, and Academic Harm:  An Examination of the Impact of Tuition Hikes on the Employment Experiences of Under-represented Minority Students at one CSU campus is based on survey data of 163 underrepresented minority students (URM), as well as in-depth interviews with 16 URM students.

The second study, by UCLA Professor Jose Luis Santos, explored the SUG, its effects on underrepresented students, and trends over a 20-year period with inflation. Santos reported that middle-income students are becoming the casualties of fee increases because while the middle-income families are seeing an increase in SUG awards, it isn't enough to keep up with the rising cost of tuition. On the other hand, the lowest income groups have seen a proportional decrease, the report states. The study also finds that students who did not qualify for state or federal financial aid have benefitted the most from SUG.

By reviewing the National Postsecondary Student Aid Study from 2008 and other publicly available data from the CSU system and the California Postsecondary Education Commission, Santos’ study, The State University Grant Program and Its Effects on Underrepresented Students at the CSU, explains that SUG helps to mitigate fee increases, regardless of race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, and/or institution attended. The study asserts that SUG only acts to offset fee increases, and instead should become a more targeted, need-based aid program to assist the most underrepresented and neediest students.

These reports are the third in a series called, THE CSU CRISIS AND CALIFORNIA’S FUTURE, and are designed to analyze the impact of the fiscal cutbacks on opportunity for higher education in the California State University system.  The first report, Squeezed from all Sides documented the struggle of many students to continue their education in the face of soaring tuition, diminished offerings, and a financial crisis seriously hurting them and many of their family members. The students reported essential classes disappearing, rising financial barriers and large delays in finishing their studies. The second reports explored faculty experiences under budget cuts and their inability to deliver the kind of quality education they believe CSU students deserve and need to obtain gainful employment after college.

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