Bob Meister from UCSC has written an excellent article on the financialization of the university and the death of the Master Plan. Meister’s research shows that as tuition in the UC system continues to grow and in-state students are replaced with nonresident students, Californian students who in the past would have gone to the UCs or the CSUs are now going to community colleges. However, since the community colleges have also experienced budget cuts and enrollment reductions, a lot of the students who used to go to the community colleges are now going to the for-profit colleges, like the University of Phoenix.
One of the results of this system is that low-income, minority students are being forced to pay high-tuition at low-performing for-profit institutions. In turn, these schools, which often have a graduation rate of under 10%, suck up over a billion dollars in Pell Grants a year as students take out high-interest subprime student loans. Moreover, since these loans are usually guaranteed by the federal government, and they cannot be erased through bankruptcy, there are a safe bet for financial speculators.
In this Reversed Master Plan, the defunding of each system results in higher tuition levels coupled with larger student debts and lower degree production. Not only will students have to work twenty years to pay off their student loans, but they will be unable to pay taxes or to contribute to economic growth. Instead of universities and colleges creating social mobility and reducing economic inequality, they are generating higher levels of inequity. To help change this dangerous path, please come to the UC Regents meeting or the CSU trustees meeting on November 16th and call for a new economic and educational model. You can also sign here a petition to protest police violence during the UC Berkeley demonstrations on November 9th.