Published on 2012/08/31

Reports Making Case for More State Investment in California Higher Education

One dollar of investment in California’s public colleges and universities will lead to a return of $4.50, according to California’s Economic Payoff, one of two reports released last week arguing for more investment in the state’s public higher education.

This return, coming back to the state over the course of a graduate’s career, would be of great benefit to the state and would more than pay off the initial investment from the state in the public education system. However, the time it takes for the investment to be returned is one of the reasons politicians avoid this course of action, according to the author of California’s Economic Payoff.

“This tells you why legislators can be myopic; because not spending money looks like a good idea in the short run, but in the long run, it’s a terrible idea,” Henry Brady told a room of educators, advocates and business leaders at the Silicon Valley Education Foundation.

The report points out that bachelor degree holders will experience a $1.34 increase in lifetime earnings, equating to more spending power and tax revenue; both positive for the state.

The other report, Defunding Higher Education: What Are the Effects on College Enrollment?, argued that California’s workforce skills gap would continue to widen unless more students were prepared to succeed at a public higher education institution.

The study found that state disinvestment in higher education has forced the state’s two major university systems to reduce their student numbers, according to report author Hans Johnson.

“Both UC and CSU have adopted policies and practices intentionally designed to reduce enrollment,” Johnson wrote.

The lack of investment in higher education shifts the financial burden of learning onto the student, which keeps many out of the system according to Manny Barbara, the vice president of the Silicon Valley Education Foundation.

“The high cost is driving away the students that really need to reach, especially poor students and students of color,” Barbara told Kathryn Baron of EdSource. “My fear is we’re becoming a two-tier society if we’re not there already.”

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