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Blog Post · November 17, 2014

Paying for Higher Education

As concerns have grown about access to and affordability of California’s higher education system, understanding costs has become more critical than ever. How are institutions—and students—faring?

This question is the focus of three reports released by PPIC and a panel discussion held last week in Sacramento. Hans Johnson, a Bren fellow at PPIC, first summarized the research. One report shows that federal financial aid has shielded low-income students from rising tuition at the University of California and California State University. A second report evaluates both revenues and spending—including faculty salaries and benefits— and concludes that UC and CSU have not become less efficient in the past several years. A third report suggests that as California begins to reinvest in public higher education, it could tie funding more closely to results—for example, the number of degrees awarded—to meet state goals. In his presentation, Johnson noted that the state’s current goals—the Master Plan for Higher Education—are more than 50 years old and overdue for an update.

Panelists took up the issue of goals—how to set them, what to measure, and how to share the costs—in a discussion moderated by Patrick Murphy, PPIC research director. Participants were Henry Brady, dean of UC Berkeley’s Goldman School of Public Policy; Nancy Shulock, former executive director of CSU Sacramento’s Institute for Higher Education Leadership and Policy; and Amy Supinger, California policy consultant for the Lumina Foundation.


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