By Christopher Cadelago
December 8, 2016 – 9:00 PM
With tuition hikes being discussed for California’s public universities, a new poll shows a strong majority of residents identifying college affordability as a big problem, including at least half of adults across wide partisan, income, and age groups.
The survey, released by the Public Policy Institute of California late Thursday, asked respondents to name the most important issue facing public colleges and universities – and 46 percent mentioned the costs, affordability, or student tuition and fees.
Other issues received mentions from less than 10 percent of adults.
With the curtain set to rise on the state’s budget negotiations, University of California and California State University officials have discussed the possibility of raising student tuition for the first time in six years amid record enrollment and the need to hire faculty. Earlier this year, both institutions weighed potentially adopting smaller annual fee hikes tied to inflation, an approach long recommended by the state’s nonpartisan fiscal analyst.
While nearly 7 out of 10 poll respondents reported that funding for colleges is inadequate, just 13 percent said they thought increased funding from the state government alone would dramatically improve the higher-education system. Forty-two percent of those who attended a community college or a CSU campus said existing funds need to be spent more wisely, compared with 22 percent of those who attended UC.
UC and CSU had doubled their average tuition and mandatory fees over the last decade, and more than tripled them since the 2000-01 academic year.
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