Thursday, August 06, 2009

Budget Cuts Devastate California Higher Education

From the Associated Press:

When California college students return to campus this fall, they'll find crowded classrooms, less access to faculty and counselors, fewer campus services and more difficulty getting classes they need to graduate — all while paying higher fees.

The state's financial crisis is battering its world-renowned system of higher education, reducing college opportunities for residents and threatening California's economic recovery.

Faced with steep declines in tax revenue, states are reducing funding to public colleges and universities across the country. That could hamper the nation's rebound from a deep recession and undermine President Barack Obama's goal of making the U.S. the world leader in college graduates by 2020, experts say.

"It's going to be harder for me to continue to be in school," said Nancy Santana, 25, a single mother who attends San Diego's Miramar College and worries her financial aid will be reduced. "I may be forced to cut school and find a job without a degree."

No state is cutting more deeply than California, which has more than 3 million students attending college.

To close its massive budget deficit, the state has slashed funding to its 110 community colleges, the 23-campus California State University and the 10-campus University of California, one of the nation's leading research institutions.

The schools have responded by boosting fees, turning away record numbers of students, expanding class sizes, eliminating programs, laying off staff, and furloughing professors and other employees.

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