Jessica: You used to be able to get a top-notch education in California at a reasonable price. That might not be the case anymore. You can still get a great education, but it is the price that is not so reasonable. In-state tuition at four-year schools has gone up 21% since last year. Some students, like Connie Castelan, have to take on a job during the day so they can go to school at night.
Connie Castelan: It is just an incredible weight on my shoulders that I just thought I couldn’t handle it.
Jessica: When her tuition at California State Northridge, hit $8,000 per semester, she had to drop out and enroll in this community college. She now pays $1,000.
Connie: Honestly, when I see tuition go up, fees go up, even books went up, it just shows that the government or the legislators, they don’t really care about students.
Jessica: California’s on-going budget crisis is hurting its state schools. It has meant larger class sizes, hiring freezes for teachers, and higher tuition forcing many students to take on odd jobs in order to get the education they need.
In the past four years, state lawmakers have cut more than $1.5 billion of funding from the state’s four year universities. In 2010, California spent more on prisons than higher education.
Connie: I think the priorities are all upside down! California has been dis-investing from higher education. We’re spending a lot more on prisons than on universities. Apparently, we’re more devoted to them than to young people.
Jessica: So, young people pay more. At UCLA, once considered a low-cost option, tuition, room, board and books can now cost over $23,000 a year. Tuition is almost twice as much as it was five years ago.
Of course, most students don’t pay that much. Financial aid covers part of the bill. But as tuition keeps going up and more students need aid, there is less of it to go around.
Joelle Gamble uses photocopied books to cut costs. The 17% tuition hike at UCLA this fall almost forced her to drop out.
Joelle Gamble: ‘Oh, just pay more.’ Pay more but the reason why some of us are here is because we can’t pay more and this was an affordable high-quality option for us.
Jessica: These students will likely be paying even more. The state may cut another $100 million next year.
Jessica Kumari, Channel One News.