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Higher Education in California: Expanding College Access


More California high school graduates are academically ready for college than ever before. More are applying to and enrolling in college, and both the University of California (UC) and the California State University (CSU) are expanding access: for example, UC has pledged to enroll 10,000 more freshmen and transfer students between 2016 and 2018. But many qualified applicants are being turned away, and this is a source of concern. A 2016 PPIC Statewide Survey found that more than three-fourths of Californians are concerned about access to the UC system.

Expanding access to college benefits both individuals and the state as a whole. The economic returns to a postsecondary degree are at their highest level in decades, even as more Californians are attending college; and workers with post-secondary degrees will continue to play a crucial role in the state’s economic growth. Expanding access can also ensure that our system of higher education offers opportunities to students who have traditionally been underrepresented in postsecondary institutions, including those from low-income families and California’s Latino and African American populations.

This publication is part of a briefing kit that highlights our state’s most pressing higher education challenges in seven key areas:



We gratefully acknowledge the support of the Sutton Family Fund.

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